The Hoyas took 90 minutes to get going in their first exhibition game, but once they did, they took off.

Georgetown opened its preseason last Monday with an exhibition match and a half-hour supplemental session against host James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. The Dukes narrowly defeated the Hoyas 1-0 in the main exhibition, but once the Blue and Gray had managed to shake off the rust, they returned the favor in the supplemental session.

Junior forward Justin Kondos headed in a delivery from midfield by sophomore Ben Slingerland, and freshman forward David Madison linked up with senior midfielder Hunter Joslin, who blasted it to the back of the net to make it 2-0 after just 15 minutes.

“I did think we were a bit flat against James Madison,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “It’s a good team. But the George Mason game on Sunday is probably going to be more of an indicator of how we’re going to look this season.”

The Hoyas will play their second and final preseason exhibition match against the Patriots at home, and the team is expecting a significant crowd in place since it will take place during the New Student Orientation weekend.

With the regular season starting in a week, the Hoyas look to be in better shape than they were a year ago. Last season saw Wiese reinforce nearly half the roster with freshmen, bringing in 11 new faces to a team significantly depleted from the previous year.

This year Georgetown retains all but one of last year’s squad, as senior defender Richard Diaz returns to play for a fifth year after sitting out the majority of his Hoya career due to numerous injuries.

Diaz will play alongside freshman defender Brandon Pfluger, a newcomer to this season’s roster, but a veteran in the sense that he enrolled early and spent all of spring semester practicing with the team.

The three freshmen on the team will be goalkeeper Erik Garciamendez, described by Wiese as “young, fast and great on his feet,” who will compete with sophomore Matt Brutto and red-shirt freshman Mark Wilber for time between the posts; forward Madison, who has already shown his worth with the assist against James Madison; and forward Uche Onyeador, the 2007 Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year, whom co-captains Sean Bellomy and Mark Zeman have acknowledged as an impact player.

“They’re all fitting in real well,” Zeman said of the incoming freshmen. “They’re all fighting for their spots. I think a few of them will see a good amount of minutes.”

The Hoyas will rely on Onyeador to improve one of the worst attacks in the conference. Georgetown managed just 14 goals in 19 games, but returns all its scorers. Sophomore forward Chandler Diggs, senior midfielder Corey Zeller and Bellomy all netted three goals, and sophomore midfielder Seth C’deBaca led the team with four assists.

A combination of youth and experience coupled with depth and motivation on the bench and the right mix at the right time on the field will be the key factors behind the Hoyas’ potential for success this season.

“It’s all about fitting the right pieces together,” Bellomy added. “We’re returning a lot of players and the new guys look really promising, so we have pretty high expectations for the season.”

The expectations of this year’s team are lofty, but not impossible.

“We really think we’re going to make the NCAA tournament this year, that’s what we’re pushing for,” Bellomy said.

“I think it’ll be disappointing for the guys not to be in the NCAA tournament,” Wiese said. “It’s been a decade since we’ve been there, so the guys are talking about making some history and trying to do some things differently and getting there this year.”

The Hoyas will play host to George Mason University on North Kehoe Field in their last exhibition match of the preseason at 5:30 p.m. this Sunday.

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