Courtesy Georgetown Sports Information
Courtesy Georgetown Sports Information

The Hoyas have set Red Bull Arena, which plays host to the semifinals and finals of the Big East tournament, as this season’s destination. But, in a unique twist, Georgetown’s road to Harrison, N.J., began in Spain.

A spring break trip to Barcelona — nearly 4,000 miles from North Kehoe Field — helped spark renewed dedication among the Blue and Gray. Motivated by having seen some of the world’s best players in action, Georgetown sees its best season yet in reach.

“I think if you look at what the mentality of the team was and some of the things that we were doing before that trip, and [compare it to] what the mentality of the team was after that trip, there’s a really stark difference,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “That trip was a defining moment for a lot of the players individually and also as a group.”

Perhaps the most important part of the trip was Wiese’s decision to take his players to several matches of the world-renowned FC Barcelona club. Watching the Catalan giants’ star-studded senior team was unsurprisingly a major highlight of the Hoyas’ time abroad, but it was actually the youngsters, in the end, that would leave the biggest impression.

“[When watching the Barcelona youth teams,] the guys aren’t seeing [Lionel] Messi and they’re not seeing [Andrés] Iniesta, they’re seeing people they don’t know yet,” Wiese said. “But they’re also seeing kids that are their own age. They can see a little bit of themselves in there and go, ‘That guy’s pretty good, but we’re close.’”

Sensing that their abilities weren’t too far off from Barcelona’s next generation of all-worlders had a profound impact on the Georgetown players. And coupled with a personal training session with the coaching staff of RCD Espanyol, another La Liga club, Wiese began to see a renewed vigor in his team.

And it wasn’t as if the squad had been slouches the past two seasons. After making a run in the NCAA tournament in 2010, the Hoyas finished 10-5-4 last year, good enough for a midpack finish in the Big East.

In their first game of the season ,  Georgetown notched a 2-1 overtime victory over Virginia.

More performances like that could very well put Georgetown over the top this season, since they are also blessed with a boatload of talent.

After a prolific 2011 season, junior forward Steve Neumann was named to the Hermann Trophy watch list, and he would be a potential Generation adidas candidate for Major League Soccer if he were to leave after this season. Senior centerback Tommy Muller is reportedly getting some looks from scouts as well.

In the net, meanwhile, is U.S. U-20 national team keeper and Georgetown sophomore Tomas Gomez, who boasted a 0.89 goals-against average last season as a rookie.

Wiese noted, however, that every single player on their roster is capable of stepping up, and that rings true between the pipes, too. Even though Gomez has a shot at the American roster for next summer’s FIFA U-20 World
Cup in Turkey, junior Keon Parsa is pushing Gomez hard to earn starts on the Hilltop.

“This preseason, I think the one noticeable difference from any of the other [teams] that I’ve had here before is that from [players] No. 1 through 25, every one of them can play,” Wiese said.

The improve-to-survive attitude players must take leads to success in soccer. Just ask Barcelona.

As Georgetown experienced first-hand in March, there’s a lot the Hoyas can take from them along their road to Red Bull Arena.

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