Hoyas poised for marquee matchup

August 26, 2011

At the start of their season, the Georgetown women’s soccer team has the ball rolling in the right direction. Notching two convincing wins in their first two games, the Hoyas aren’t messing around. They dominated their two district matches against George Washington and American, scoring early and shutting out their opponents.

“I’m always nervous for those games,” senior Ingrid Wells, 2010’s Big East Midfielder of the Year, said. “I know they want to beat us … we have a lot to lose in those games so it puts a little bit more pressure on us.”

Senior Kelly D’Ambrisi said she was happy to have beaten opponents that consider the Hoyas their top competition.

“We’re definitely the best team on their schedule, so they get up to beat us like we get up to play Stanford. It’s nerve-wracking,” she said.

So far, the Hoyas have handled the pressure, keeping pace with last year’s squad, which also kept their local rivals off the scoreboard early in the season. But there is still a ways to go before they can rest easy.

Coping with expectations and pressure will be a familiar theme for the team this season in the wake of last year’s strong campaign, which saw the team post an impressive 15-7-2 record and culminated in an appearance in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament. But bigger obstacles lie ahead for the 20th-ranked Hoyas, who know these games are just a preliminary test for the much tougher opponents that lie ahead.

They players are well aware of the dangers of overlooking these early games. Coach Dave Nolan was hesitant to talk about the team’s Sunday opponent, second-ranked Stanford, reiteraing the importance of taking the season as it comes. But Wells says that they “have nothing to lose” and that games against opponents like Stanford, who has made the NCAA Finals for the past two seasons, lets them leave it all out on the field.

Even Nolan cannot hide his anticipation for the Stanford matchup.

“It’s great to have [Stanford] come in and play on our field in front of our fans and to play a team of that caliber,” Nolan said. “I tell them all the time, if we genuinely want to become the best, we’ve got to play the best and we’ve got to beat the best.”

Nine freshmen were added to the squad this year and have meshed well with the team during the month they have spent on campus, according to senior leaders. Even with the loss of a strong graduating class, the team has a very positive attitude, reiterating their core philosophy: “one game at a time.”

“I’m not big on setting goals. I think goal-setting is overrated,” Nolan said.

Instead, he uses “benchmarks” from previous seasons to gauge their success. The women would like to tally double-digit wins, and make the Big East tournament. Only a return to the NCAAs would match their strong 2010 season, but Nolan and the team are not ready to look that far ahead.

“Right now I’m just worried about Towson. Towson is a big game for us because it’s a team … we’d like to think we can take care of,” he said.

The Hoyas will look to protect their winning streak against Towson at 3 p.m. on North Kehoe Field. Sunday they take on Stanford in a 1 p.m. kickoff.

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