Georgetown's men's lacrosse team is the last undefeated squad in Division I -- but barely. The Hoyas (7-0) have won their past three games by one goal. The close games are representative of a season in which four of the top six teams have played at least three one-goal games.
Last year, all four NCAA tournament quarterfinal games, one semifinal and the national championship were decided by one goal.
There are many reasons for the close games, according to coaches. Among them are recent bad weather and the new lacrosse sticks, which have deeper pockets that make it harder to lose the ball when the stick is checked but also make it more difficult for shots to be accurate.
Another reason is lacrosse and volleyball are the only NCAA sports in which coaches are allowed to attend, and scout, their opponents' regular season games in person. Top-ranked Johns Hopkins (6-1, 2-1 in one-goal games) usually sends a scout to almost all of the games involving local opponents such as Navy and Maryland.
Army Coach Jack Emmer and an assistant were among the few college coaches who scouted Navy when the Midshipmen lost to Georgetown -- by one goal -- on March 30. The game was played in snow and sleet.
"I saw three or four coaches at our Navy game, and that surprised me," Georgetown Coach Dave Urick said. "With that weather, I don't think I would have been there if I didn't have to be."
Urick said coaches sometimes talk about asking for a change in the rules regarding scouting. He added that he and his staff do not personally scout many games because there are so many videotapes of opposing teams available.
Georgetown's assistants send a form to many of the other programs at the beginning of the season, telling the teams they are available to exchange game films.
"I know there are some concerns about tapes," Urick said, "because some teams do them professionally and others look like they were filmed by a parent who was standing on the team bus. . . . Everyone has a tape of at least two or three games of each team. Obviously, these teams are well-prepared for one another. The defenses are so good, it makes it tough to score [even-strength] goals."
Said Maryland Coach Dave Cottle: "I think with the automatic qualifiers [to the NCAA tournament] you are seeing more teams play a better quality of schedule. I think there are a lot of teams that are about even. . . . I'm not sure [scouting in person] makes all that much difference, because a lot of times we all have games at the same time so we can't get to other games."
The Terrapins have won a one-goal game and a two-goal game this year. They may be the happiest team not to have a glut of one-goal games: Maryland lost four such games last year and missed the NCAA tournament with a 9-4 record.
"We've won a one-goal game and a two-goal game, so I think that means we've grown up," Cottle said.
Double the Teams
Washington area fans can pull off a rare doubleheader on Saturday, when third-ranked Georgetown hosts No. 13 Loyola (5-3) at 1 p.m. and No. 5 Maryland (7-1) hosts Johns Hopkins at 8. Tickets are $5 to each game.