And then there’s Will Bowen, a former first team all-American defenseman at North Carolina who has fortified Georgetown’s already imposing defense and helped the Hoyas (15-1) land the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. They will host Delaware (12-5) at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Cooper Field.
“A guy like Will comes in as well with all these different characteristics, and he can fill any gap we’re missing because he’s so diverse as a player,” defenseman James Donaldson said. “That was really what he brought the most was his diversity because we had most gaps filled elsewhere. He just bolstered almost everything we had when he showed up. We were pumped to get him.”
And rightfully so. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound graduate student figured to be one of the most impactful transfers available in last year’s cycle, and he has delivered 34 caused turnovers as Georgetown has rolled to an 11-game winning streak and Big East regular season and tournament titles.
Bowen was part of the Tar Heels’ program for three years, missing 2019 with an ACL tear before losing the back half of the 2020 season like everyone else when the coronavirus pandemic hit. The time off gave him the chance to sketch out a long-term schedule, and he realized he could earn an undergraduate degree in three years.
Bowen wanted to pursue a specific two-year master’s program in finance with an eventual aim of working in the financial services sector. Only a handful of schools with nationally competitive Division I lacrosse programs offered it, narrowing Bowen’s options from the start. (North Carolina, among others, did not have the program he sought).
Georgetown won out, and Bowen made his choice well before he even began his final season at North Carolina.
“Every coach thinks they’re really good at the recruiting piece, but Will is so driven and has a plan in everything he does, on and off the field,” Hoyas Coach Kevin Warne said. “He knew he had the ability to graduate when he did and had the opportunity to grab a two-year master’s. He did a lot of the background work on his own.”
There was still an adjustment to be made once Bowen joined the Hoyas, and he didn’t want to overstep any boundaries on a team that was coming off a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals and had most of the pieces of an elite defense back.
So rather than immediately assert himself, Bowen spent the fall analyzing his new situation and fitting into his new team.
“My No. 1 priority was building relationships, letting the guys get to know me, making sure I got to know the guys so that this spring could be so much easier,” Bowen said. “Wherever there was friction in the fall during that process where I was trying to meet people, make myself known and just accustom myself to this entire area and campus community, it was only a matter of time before it became normal and was like I’d been here for two or three years.”
That introductory period, perhaps even more than his stellar play, stood out to teammates who knew Bowen only by his superb on-field reputation less than nine months ago.
“I give him a lot of credit for the way he came in here because, being the player he was, it would have been easy to come in here and kind of been top dog, and everybody would have been okay with it because he has that clout,” Donaldson said. “But he did the exact opposite and treated everyone the same way and really lived by the golden rule.”
Ultimately, the transfer checked every box Bowen thought it would. The academic program met his expectations. He knows he will have the ability to tap into a second alumni network once he graduates.
And Bowen earned Big East defensive player of the year honors as the Hoyas landed their highest seed ever in the NCAA tournament and are well positioned to make a run to the final weekend of the season for the first time since 1999.
“I honestly feel like I’ve doubled my life in a sense, which is crazy and maybe something I should have expected coming into this,” Bowen said. “It was a big move, in all the best of ways. I’ve been extremely pleased with my time here.”