It will be with mixed emotions that the Hoyas board the bus to Syracuse this weekend, as they gear up to play the No. 5 Orange at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The game – between the only two undefeated teams in the Big East – could end up deciding the league crown.

Last weekend saw the Blue and Gray split their results, first being narrowly defeated by top-ranked Northwestern and then making a comprehensive comeback just two days later, beating Louisville by eight goals.

Nevertheless, the Hoyas (8-2, 2-0 Big East) have a tough battle at hand against conference rival Syracuse (9-2, 2-0 Big East). Offensively, the Orange’s statistics speak for themselves – with a mammoth total of 206 goals scored and 428 shots attempted in just 11 games so far this season, offense is by far Syracuse’s strong suit. The Hoyas have put on tremendous offensive displays of their own this season; yet, their total of 114 goals and 203 shots at goal in 10 games is humble in comparison.

Head Coach Ricky Fried emphasized the importance of an unyielding Hoya defense against the Orange, a factor that could make or break the Blue and Gray in their away game against a traditionally competitive rival.

“Our defense will have to step up once again,” Fried said, referring to Georgetown’s previous display against Northwestern, in which the defense conceded only seven goals to the three-time defending champions. “[Sophomore goalkeeper] Caitlin Formby had a big game in goal last weekend, and she’ll need to do the same against Syracuse.”

Formby, who was just two shy of her career high of 12 saves in the game against Northwestern last weekend, has made a total of 77 saves so far this season, to go with seven from her backup, freshman goalkeeper Lauren Thomas. The defense as a whole has a clear percentage of .735, a statistic that Fried hopes to increase in the face of the offensive pressure that Syracuse’s attack will bring. The Hoyas have made more saves than Syracuse’s 74, but the Orange have the advantage with their clear percentage of .840.

Yet, Fried said he is not troubled.

“Syracuse’s defense is tough but that is more because they’re very athletic. Nothing else, really,” he said.

Fried will be hoping that the athleticism of his star attack trio – freshman attacker Jordy Kirr, sophomore attacker Molly Ford and sophomore midfielder Ashby Kaestner – will trump the athleticism of the Orange defense. The three of them have a clear attacking chemistry that has translated well for the Hoyas both on the pitch and on the scoreboard, and as long as they are able to maintain possession in the Orange half of the field, goals will inevitably come.

Heading into the year, Georgetown has won all seven Big East regular season titles and are currently 40-1 in regular season conference play. But Syracuse beat Georgetown in the championship game of the inaugural Big East tournament last year, and this year the Orange were the coaches’ preseason pick to win the conference title. The Hoyas, despite their tradition of dominance in the conference, were picked third. With both teams standing at 2-0 in league play, tomorrow’s game will go a long way in deciding the conference champ.

“The girls are excited to take on a Big East rival like Syracuse. . They enjoy playing at the Carrier Dome tremendously; it holds a special atmosphere for us,” Fried said.

The Hoyas lost last year at the Dome, 12-7, in the championship game, but won 10-7 two years ago. The two Big East powers will face off in their first draw control set for noon.

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