Sept. 28, 2012
WASHINGTON - When the Georgetown University men's lacrosse team took the field against Keio University, Japan's premier collegiate lacrosse team, on Thursday evening at Multi-Sport Field, it was not just the team's first game action under new Head Coach Kevin Warne. The Hoyas were also getting its first look at a team from a different culture with an uncommon style of play.
The Keio University lacrosse team has been on a two week trip through the Mid-Atlantic region, a regular occurrence for Japan's first established collegiate lacrosse program, where they play nine friendly scrimmages in 10 days against programs like UMBC, Navy and Towson among others. This was the first meeting between Georgetown and Keio and GU's first international competition since a mid-90's trip to England.
"It was funny, before the game our guys were looking over to see how they warmed up, but then when we were warming up they were looking over to see what we were doing, so I hope they were able to pick up a few things," Warne said. "I spoke to their coach afterward and he was very appreciative of the opportunity. We talked about how you learn something new every time you step onto the field to play and we hope they were able to pick up one or two things from us to help them develop."
Keio's squad does not boast the same type of size present on the Hoyas roster, but instead utilize their quickness, playing a game predicated on constant motion, something that the Hoyas coaching staff hopes will be a strong learning experience for its own team.
"Keio does some things that are not common in Division I lacrosse," Warne said. "They are very quick, they are always moving and it gives you a good look at some of the chaotic situations that happen in lacrosse. If you can learn from it, it will become very beneficial moving forward."
For Georgetown, it proved to be a learning experience, especially for the underclassmen, who were featured heavily due to the team playing without several veterans who were either nursing injuries or involved in late classes. Sophomore attackmen Reilly O'Connor and Bo Stafford, as well as sophomore defenseman Bryson Greene saw significant early action, as O'Connor and Stafford helped spark the offense. The team also got its first look at its 13 player freshmen class.
"It was great to see some of the younger guys step up," senior defender Patrick Murray said. "There will be plenty of things that we will need to correct from this scrimmage, but everyone played with energy and focus and that's all you can ask for at this stage of the fall."
The game was a unique cultural experience for the Hoyas, who have not often had the opportunity to compete against international opponents. While the style of play was different and communication was difficult, the shared love of the sport helped bond the opponents.
"Even though we could only exchange a few words because of the language barrier, there was definitely an understanding of the game between both sides that was pretty cool to see," Murray said.
For Warne and the coaching staff it was an opportunity to see the team in game action after the first few weeks of fall practice.
"When you play early on in the fall you are trying to find out some things about yourself," Warne said. "The thing I told the guys in the locker room was I just wanted to see effort. We knew we were going to make some mistakes, but to just compete for every ground ball and play Georgetown lacrosse. People are going to know that Georgetown lacrosse is going to be hardworking, blue collar, a lot of effort and a lot of toughness."
The toughness was on display on both sides of the field as the Hoyas were active competing for groundballs throughout the game. But following the game the two teams gathered, exchanging gifts, as Georgetown players gave each Keio player a pair of the Hoyas new Maverik gloves, while Keio provided each Georgetown player with one of its practice shirts.
"That has always been a tradition in Japan to exchange gifts," Warne said. "One of the things that I learned is that you make a lot of friends in lacrosse. To have those guys coming over here to play a bunch of schools for two weeks is a great cultural experience for them, and certainly for our guys so we wanted to show our appreciation."
The Georgetown men's lacrosse team returns to action on Saturday, October 6 when they take part in the annual Play for Parkinson's at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. GU meets Princeton at noon and then plays Air Force at 2 p.m.