For many teams, being picked to finish fourth in one of the best conferences in the nation would be a source of pride. However, Ian Christianson, junior midfielder for the Georgetown men’s soccer team, feels the prediction was anything but a compliment.
“It’s kind of a slap in the face,” Christianson said.
Last year, Christianson led the Hoyas’ stellar 2010 campaign that saw them win their first regular season Blue Division championship since 1994 season. The Hoyas finished 12-6-2 on the year, including a nine-game win streak late in the season capped by a 1-0 win over then-No. 6 Connecticut that sealed the title for Georgetown.
Georgetown defeated UNC-Greensborough in the first round of the NCAA tournament but eventually lost to perennial powerhouse North Carolina on penalty kicks.
While the heartbreaking loss put an end to the Hoyas’ most successful season in recent memory, their performance gave the team a confidence boost heading into the 2011 season.
“We’re going into every game thinking we’re the favorite,” Christianson said. “We’re returning for the most part all of our major contributors, and we have the mentality that we are the team to beat.”
Perhaps the most important contributor the Hoyas return from last year’s team is Christianson himself. Head coach Brian Wiese had no problem expressing just how important Christianson is to his program.
“Ian’s energy and ability to control the game is paramount,” Wiese said. “When he struggles in a game we don’t have a lot of rhythm. We’re a lot better team when he’s going well.”
The midfielder garnered multiple postseason honors for his role in orchestrating Georgetown’s offense last year, earning the title of Big East Midfielder of the Year in addition to being named to College Soccer News’s Second Team. The accolades continued to pile up for Christianson earlier this summer, as he was recently named a first team Preseason All-American.
Despite his obvious importance to the team and growing national recognition, Christianson doesn’t feel any added pressure.
“It’s really the same as last year. I’m here to win games, and we’re a team,” he said.
Perhaps Christianson doesn’t feel any new pressure because of the extremely talented and experienced core of juniors surrounding him on the field. Along with Christianson, Jimmy Nealis, Tommy Muller, and Andy Reimer have all played an extremely important role in changing the culture and attitude of the Georgetown program.
“We all bring a lot of experience, and we have winning mentality and focus that isn’t just on game days,” Christianson said.
This confident attitude certainly manifested itself this preseason, as the Hoyas rolled over Richmond 3-0 before heading to College Park, where the Hoyas beat No. 4 Maryland 1-0.
Georgetown begins regular season play this Monday at home against Virginia Commonwealth. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. at North Kehoe Field.