Patience is paying off for Georgetown's Urick

April 30, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

One of the first road games produced a long, bumpy ride back home.

"It was my first year here, and we had just gotten thumped by the Navy plebes," said Dave Urick, Georgetown's fifth-year coach. "The bus was swerving all over the road, and I had my son [Scott] sitting next to me.

"He was used to watching our teams at Hobart run up and down the field, winning a lot of titles," said Urick. "And here we were getting beat by the plebes. He looked up at me and said, 'Dad, what are we doing here?' "

There have been times Urick has asked himself the same question, but his patience has paid off. The Hoyas are emerging as a serious contender in Division I lacrosse.

If No. 13 Georgetown (9-2) upsets No. 3 Loyola (9-1) today, and beats Penn in its season finale next Saturday, there's a good chance the Hoyas will be included in the 12-team playoff field. It would be their first NCAA tournament in 24 years of Division I lacrosse.

"It's been a learning experience for everybody, and we're still learning," said Urick. "I look back and remember a lot of freshmen and sophomores taking a lump or two in my first year.

"But this group always thought they could get close to the playoffs by their senior year," Urick added. "They have stuck together, and I think we have a good blend of experienced players giving us leadership and a solid group of athletes."

Urick came to basketball-mad Georgetown in August 1990, with dreams and 10 straight Division III championships at Hobart. But he was put in a one-room office on the basement floor of McDonough Arena. He had no secretary or full-time assistants, and the Hoyas never had experienced a winning season.

At least he had a window.

"That's one thing I didn't have at Hobart," said Urick, laughing.

Urick also had the Hobart philosophy, one that he quickly found didn't work at Georgetown. Hobart would run and run, hitting the opposition with wave after wave of talented players, especially midfielders.

"I didn't mind the first year, because it made me go back to work for a living," said Urick, who now has one full-time and two part-time assistants. "But the school has kept its commitment and given me a lot of support.

"I've had to adopt and adjust, playing a more controlled game and becoming more detailed on things like team defense," he said. "We're playing the type of lacrosse that we're finally comfortable with."

The Hoyas have solid depth at midfield and still can run when it counts, especially with attackmen such as junior Chris Remington (28 goals, 16 assists) and senior Nathan Sprong (20, 12). But the Hoyas are making their reputation with defensemen such as Hank Wiethake, Glen Moore and Ed McCabe.

Georgetown has allowed only eight goals on 69 extra-man situations.

"They are a very physical bunch," said Loyola coach Dave Cottle. "This is going to be a close game."

It won't be Georgetown's first shot at a big-time opponent. Urick has had a winning season every year at Georgetown while also improving a previously lightweight schedule.

Gone are Canisius, Stony Brook, Radford and Mary Washington. They have been replaced by Loyola, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Navy, Hofstra and Penn.

Urick says the schedule will get tougher.

"At first, we used to get beat badly by the big-name teams, then we were contented to play them close because we didn't know how or have the experience to beat them," said Remington. "Now, we're out to beat them."

Georgetown beat Navy, 11-9, but lost to Duke in overtime, 11-10, and to Hofstra, 13-10. Loyola, though, is even tougher, and a win would bring the Hoyas prestige and recruits.

And a possible playoff berth.

"We've got to play great, great defense," said Hoyas senior midfielder Kevin Noonan. "We're on the bubble, and we'll be excited."

"I knew this team's aspirations from the beginning of the season," said Urick. "It's no secret that you play your way into the end of the season or you play your way out of the season. That's it."

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