Charles Nailen/The Hoya Senior COurtney Shaub has scored five goals in each of her two seasons with the Hoyas. She recorded 14 points last year, putting her fourth in team scoring.

The ultimate goal for the Georgetown women’s soccer team in 2003 is to reach its first-ever NCAA Tournament, and the Hoyas have an opportunity to make an early case for a bid as they open the season today at 4 p.m. against perennial power William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

By opening the schedule with several challenging matches against mid-Atlantic region opponents, including George Mason in Wednesday’s home opener, head coach Diane Drake hopes to demonstrate early on that her team is a contender for a tournament spot.

“We don’t have any leeway in the beginning of our schedule. We start and we hit the ground and we run,” Drake said. “The fact that we will be playing two teams that will be ranked in the region, it is really important for us to at least secure one win over the two of them. We want to get those significant results early in the season, because when it comes back to it late in the season, those are results that are going to look good.”

William and Mary, which defeated Georgetown 1-0 in last year’s opener, made its 11th straight NCAA Tournament appearance last year and was picked by Colonial Athletic Association coaches to win its conference this season. The Tribe features a dynamic offense, led by senior midfielders Lindsey Vanderspiegel and Tara Flint, two former conference players of the year.

“The two of them are really dangerous, but truthfully, I’d put [freshman Chrissy] Skogen, [junior Nicole] DePalma and [senior Courtney] Shaub right up against them,” Drake said. “We’re very evenly matched with William and Mary; it’s which team is more confident and more prepared at this point in the season. There’s also a revenge factor that we have that they don’t have.”

Not only did the Hoyas drop a close contest to the Tribe last year, but they also lost their starting goalkeeper, sophomore Louisa Butler, in the 70th minute of the game after she was tackled in the goal box. Butler sat out the rest of the season, but has made a full recovery.

Drake stressed that there was no malicious intent behind the tackle. “It was just in the flow of the game, it just happened the way it happened,” she said.

Georgetown kicks off its home schedule Wednesday against George ason. Although they have never faced each other in the regular season, the teams are familiar with one another. Georgetown and George Mason have played three times in spring matches and once in a fall scrimmage, and two of Georgetown’s assistant coaches, Tamara Pearman and Naomi Hines, come from the Patriots’ program.

“They know that team inside and out,” Drake said. “Like our assistant coaches are going to want to win that game more than any other game on the schedule, their team is going to want to win that game. I think it will be a really interesting matchup.”

Georgetown clearly has the offensive capability to match up against the region’s top teams, as evidenced by the Hoyas’ 4-2 exhibition victory at Virginia Commonwealth University on August 21. Trailing 2-1 after 60 minutes, Georgetown exploded for three goals in the final 30 minutes to rally for the victory. Drake said that she expects the Hoyas to feature a deep and dynamic attack all year, but she believes that the team should focus on defensive organization in the early going.

“We’re going to look to make limited mistakes in the back third and try to gain rhythm and confidence, and hopefully be able to win the game from that,” Drake said. “I’d rather build from the back and move forward.”

It may take a couple of games for the several key players to shake minor injuries. Drake said that five or six players were suffering from nagging injuries, but noted that senior captain Lauren Calone is out indefinitely. It remains to be seen whether the team will be adversely affected by a lack of depth, but Drake remains confident and very enthusiastic about the team’s future after a number of seasons in which injuries kept the team from reaching its potential.

“The biggest thing I look for is building confidence,” she continued. “We don’t really fully know what we have yet with each other because we haven’t had a chance, so it’s going to take a couple games to master that.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.