Charles Nailen/The Hoya Junior midfielder Dan Gargan sprints to the ball. Gargan led the defense against St. John’s last year when the teams tied 0-0 after two overtimes.

Last year when Georgetown’s men’s soccer team clashed with St. John’s University, nearly 1,000 spectators came to North Kehoe Field. They were curious to see if the home team could manage to fend off the top team in the nation and stay on course to clinch a berth in the postseason tournament.

The Hoyas managed to keep the Red Storm at bay, and the teams battled to a 0-0 tie which helped boost the Hoyas’ morale and nudged them toward the Big East tournament.

This year, Georgetown gives up the home field advantage to St. John’s, but both teams look prepared to create on-field fireworks in Queens, N.Y., come 8 p.m. Saturday night as the teams maintain an intense rivalry.

“The games between the two teams have always been close, and I don’t expect this to be any different. It’s a very even game,” head coach Keith Tabatznik said. “One play, one bounce, one mistake, whatever it takes to win. The guys are ready for this game.”

Since 1999, the contests between the foes have served up drama, with the teams tying twice and the Red Storm taking the upper hand 1-0 in the other two regular season matchups. In the 1999 Big East tournament quarterfinals, No. 5 Georgetown handed a 1-0 upset to No. 4 St. John’s to advance to the semifinals. Both teams have qualified for the Big East tournament every year since 1993. While St. John’s has gained more prominence on the national scene recently, both programs bring a healthy tradition of success in the Big East onto the field when they clash.

“Georgetown and St. John’s have been two of the better teams in the Big East over the last decade, and I think this game will show the same thing,” Tabatznik said.

In the backfield, both teams have proven players that will cause problems for any offense. Red Storm senior defenseman Chris Wingert has an impressive pedigree, including the honor of being named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East. He is also an All-American and a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, the most prestigious award for an individual in college soccer. Georgetown will battle back the St. John’s attackers with the help of sophomore defenseman Jeff Curtin, last year’s Big East Rookie of the Year and a unanimous selection to this year’s Preseason All-Big East Team as well as junior midfielder and co-captain Dan Gargan.

Junior forward Chris Corcoran and junior midfielder Andre Schmid lead the Red Storm offense, which helped gain some early goals that allowed the team to vanquish Big East challengers Notre Dame, 3-0, and Rutgers, 3-1. Sophomore forward Kemmons Feldman and freshman forward Ricky Schramm, the team’s rising star on offense, will carry Georgetown’s hopes to score.

The key to the game, according to Tabatznik, will come in the first 15 to 20 minutes in the game, during which St. John’s scored several of its goals against Notre Dame and Rutgers. Georgetown struggled in both its games last weekends after giving up goals in the first five minutes, and the team has worked hard to become mentally focused early on in order to avoid that same pitfall.

“The team is focused and excited for our Big East opener. We know we have to be able to get points on the road in order to do well at the end of the day,” Tabatznik said. “They’re going to have a full house and it’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere. Overall, it will be a huge game.”

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