Since the day they arrived on campus in August, the Hoyas have worn blue bracelets with “11/11/07” inscribed on them. November 11 is the day of the Big East tournament championship in organtown, W.Va., the day Georgetown hopes to be hoisting the Big East Championship trophy celebrating the fruits of their months of hard work and preparation. The first stop in the week-long road to organtown is Storrs, Conn., to take on No. 23 Connecticut.

Last season the Hoyas battled injuries and even more bad luck en route to a 5-9-5 record and a season that was cut short after failing to qualify for the Big East tournament. With that as motivation the Hoyas have rebounded in a big way this season, amassing a school-record 13 wins, a third-place finish in the National Division, and a first-round bye in the tournament that eluded them last season.

“Last year was disappointing to us,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “The kids doubled their effort to try and get [to the Big East tournament], and that was our number one goal. Our second goal was to get the highest seed we could in the tournament, and we did that.”

The Hoyas will make the journey to Morrone Stadium, one of the most hostile environments in the conference, on Sunday in a quarterfinal matchup with the Huskies, seeded second in the American division. Connecticut comes in after losing two of its last three games to end the season, including an overtime loss to St. John’s. The Huskies, who made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, will be looking to avenge their 2-0 loss at the hands of the Hoyas last season.

Connecticut is the definition of stability and sustained success in women’s soccer as they look to advance to their 26th consecutive NCAA tournament. The return of the top six point-scorers from last season has paid huge dividends this season for the Huskies as they have spread their scoring among four players who all have 12 or more points this season. The leader of this group is senior midfielder Megan Schnur, who has five goals and seven assists this season.

Senior defensive leader Karen Waskewich, along with the rest of the Georgetown defense, will be charged with the task of halting the Connecticut attack. Waskewich, who played a major role in last season’s shutout victory on both ends of the field -¬¬ she assisted the first goal of the game – is confident in her team’s defensive ability.

“We just can’t make stupid mistakes [on defense],” Waskewich said. “We’ve come out strong in the majority of our games. We just need to keep doing that and not make stupid errors against such a good team that will counter any mistakes.”

While Nolan is concerned about the Connecticut offense, he feels his team can limit their production with offense strikes of its own. As has been this team’s mantra all season, the best defense will be their good offense. If they can control possession of the ball, they can limit the Huskies’ opportunities and control the pace of the game.

“UConn is a team that plays, but they also let you play,” the fourth-year head coach said. “We will get our moments against them. Going against them we need to be able to keep the ball like we did against Notre Dame. We have to have the ability and the poise to possess the ball and not just turn it over. I think we have the players to do that on Sunday.”

The key to Georgetown’s high-powered offense will rest on the shoulders of 5-foot-2 freshman forward Ingrid Wells. Wells has been the offensive leader all season. In the past four games she has 10 points on one goal and eight assists. She has done all this while teams have been man-marking her in an attempt to limit her production. The extra attention has created opportunities for other Hoya goal-scorers like senior forwards Elaina Filauro and Sara Jordan, who have taken advantage of those chances. Nolan is prepared to battle the extra attention Wells might get, but does not expect Husky coach Len Tsantiris to employ such a strategy.

“I don’t think they will necessarily man-mark Ingrid,” he said. “If she does get special attention by another player, then we will just move her around like we did against South Florida. The more we move her around, the more it unbalances them and it creates space for the rest of our players.”

With seven days in between games, their longest stretch since early in the season, the Hoyas expect to be rejuvenated for their challenge up north.

“We’ll go up there well-rested, we’ll go up there well prepared, and we’ll go up there with the mindset to win. This is a confident team,” Nolan said.

Game time is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

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