The Georgetown men’s soccer team (15-2-2, 9-0-0 Big East) will face off against the Hofstra Pride (14-7-0, 6-2-0, CAA) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this Sunday at Shaw Field. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.
The Hoyas secured a third-seed and an all-important first-round bye following an overtime thriller against the conference rival Creighton Bluejays (17-3-0, 7-2-0 Big East) in the Big East Tournament final. While Hofstra dueled the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (13-6-3, 4-3-2 Patriot League) in the first round of the tournament, the Hoyas were resting comfortably atop the Hilltop in Washington, watching the game online.
“It’s great,” said Head Coach Brian Wiese on the extra rest. “It was really needed. When you play Creighton twice and Xavier once, those are NCAA Tournament type games. There’s a lot of emotion. It took a lot out of the boys physically.”
Heading into the weekend, Wiese gave the team three light days of practice. But just because Hofstra is coming off less rest, does not mean the CAA champions will not be ready.
“Everyone is either very good or a conference champion,” said Wiese before the Lehigh-Hofstra game. “There’s a confidence to conference champions, they’re used to winning. And whoever we see will have just won another game.”
Going unbeaten in the CAA tournament and taking the first game of the NCAA’s certainly creates some momentum, but the Hoyas have a confidence of their own. The Blue and Gray have not lost once in their last 16 games, winning their last 13. Then again, the national tournament is a very different monster, and could shake just about any team.
“There are nerves,” said Wiese. “We could have another week of training, or it could be over. But there’s a lot of excitement too.”
Wiese is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, this year marking his fifth appearance. He understands the art to preparation, both mentally and physically.
“You walk a fine line,” said Wiese. “You’ve got to be up for the game, but not too nervous so you forget what brought you here.”
Luckily for Wiese, he has superstar junior defender Joshua Yaro and a core group of upperclassmen who know exactly what it takes to win on the national level. The Hoyas have played in the tournament each of the last three years, and were one minute away from advancing to the Final Four last year before a late equalizer from the University of Virginia.
The experienced upperclassmen will lead Big East Freshman of the Year goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski and the rest of the freshmen in the biggest game of their lives. With the Hoyas playing as well as anyone in the country in the last few months, they could be poised for a deep run.
If they get past the Pride, however, they will advance to play the winner of Boston College (10-7-1, 4-4-0 ACC) and South Florida (11-5-3, 5-1-2 AAC) in the third round. The Hoyas have wide eyes for the College Cup game on December 13, but for now, there is only Hofstra.
“They have a goal to win a national championship game,” said Wiese. “It’s a knock-out competition. You’ve got to bring the same intensity, drive, and respect to every one of these games. It’s like playing five national championship games.”