VILLANOVA, Pa. -- Georgetown University won its first BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship presented by Jeep title in program history with an 8-3 victory over No. 3/3 Denver on Saturday afternoon. The No. 17/18 Hoyas advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time in program history and the first time since the 2007 season.
Nick Marrocco (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) was named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player after posting 26 saves in two games, including 14 against the top-seeded Pioneers in the finals. Lucas Wittenberg (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison/Mercer), Craig Berge (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) and Ryan Hursey (Finksburg, Md./Westminster) were all named to the All-Tournament team as well.
Wittenberg led the Hoyas (12-4) with three goals and two assists against Denver while Jake Carraway (Annapolis, Md./St. Mary's) added three goals, including the game-winner. Berge and Matt Behrens (Bronxville, N.Y./Bronxville) both added a goal and an assist each.
Along with Marrocco's 14 saves, Hursey held Ethan Walker, the BIG EAST Attack Player of the Year and the league's leading scorer, scoreless from the defensive midfield. Georgetown's close defense of Connor Moran (Monkton, Md./Loyola Blakefield), Gibson Smith (Pelham, N.Y./Pelham Memorial) and Stephen MacLeod (San Francisco, Calif./St. Ignatius) as well as the rope unit of Hursey, Greg Galligan (Oyster Bay Cove, N.Y./St. Anthony's), Kieran Jenkins (Millersville, Md./Severna Park), Alex Robinson (Silver Spring, Md./Bullis) and Joe LiCalzi (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side) held the high-powered Pioneer offense to nine goals below their season average.
With both teams clamping down on defense in the opening frame, scoring came at a premium with only the Hoyas finding the back of the cage twice. Both goals came from Carraway, first after collecting an errant pass at midfield and firing a shot on the run at the 7:33 mark. The second came with a 30-second clock on and time expiring in the quarter. Berge found Carraway again, this time from 10 yards out, with only 19 seconds remaining in the stanza.
Georgetown continued to add to its lead in the second, posting back-to-back goals to go ahead 4-0. Wittenberg opened the scoring in the frame, using a spin move to beat his defender from five yards out to score while Carraway completed his hat trick less than three minutes later. Collecting a pass from Wittenberg, he blew past his defender to beat the Pioneer keeper one-on-one for the score. Marrocco held Denver scoreless for the first 27:52 of the game before the Pioneers scored their first goal at the 2:08 mark. The Hoyas tacked on another goal in the waning moments of the half as Wittenberg scored his second of the game with 16 ticks on the clock to give GU a 5-1 advantage going into the break.
In the third, Berge put the Blue & Gray onto the board at the 11:20 mark courtesy of a Behrens assist but Denver matched the goal with 1:31 remaining in the stanza to make it 6-2 going into the final 15 minutes.
Closing out the game, Marrocco collected four saves in the final frame and GU used goals from Berge at the 11:26 mark and Wittenberg at 8:48 to lead 8-2. Denver posted its final goal just 13 seconds later, but was shutout by Marrocco and the Hoya defense the final 8:35 of the game.
Colin Rutan scored all three goals for the Pioneers (12-3). Austin French added one assist.
With the win, Georgetown earns the BIG EAST's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show will be broadcast on Sunday, May 6 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.