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Freshman midfielder Camille Trujillo

Coming off of one of their strongest regular seasons to date, the Georgetown women’s soccer team will kick off the postseason this weekend as they take on the University of Connecticut at home on Sunday. The Hoyas’ second-place finish in the National Division of the Big East -behind undefeated Notre Dame – earned them a bye straight to the quarterfinal round of the tournament.

After the Hoyas’ breakout season last year, the women’s head coach, Dave Nolan, felt this year might be a rebuilding year. “It’s very easy to have a miracle season where you just kind of come up fast and suddenly you’re ahead of everyone,” Nolan said. “It’s very difficult to do that again, but this team managed to improve on last year. I think this is the best team we’ve ever had.”

The 2007 Georgetown squad put together a season record of 14-8-0 and a conference record of 6-5-0, both of which were some of the strongest in the program’s history. The Hoyas also made it to the semifinals of the Big East tournament and earned their first bid to the NCAA tournament. The team’s postseason ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament against William & Mary. Despite the early exit, Georgetown’s strong regular and postseason performance established the team as a definite force to be reckoned with, both in the Big East conference and on the national stage.

This year, Georgetown compiled a season record of 13-3-2, and a Big East record of 8-3-0. Huge performances from both the strong class of newcomers and the team’s veterans made for this year’s exceptional regular season. Freshman midfielder Samantha Baker racked up eight goals as one of the team’s leading scorers, and junior forward Toni Marie Hudson – in her best season to date – led the team in goals scored with 10, tying with the all-time season record. Sophomore goalie Jackie DesJardin led the Georgetown defense as the team recorded nine shutouts, breaking the school record.

Nolan pointed to the depth of this year’s team – a team that lost star players Ingrid Wells, to a spot on the U.S. National Under-21 squad, and Sara Jordan, to injury – which has allowed them to improve even more since last year. A slew of different players have risen to the occasion over the course of the season, meaning the absences and injuries have not had as much of an impact as in years past.

“We’ve been finding different heroes to win each game this year,” Nolan said. “We’re happy that everyone has been contributing.”

Backed up by one of the best seasons in school history, the Hoyas kick off the postseason this weekend against Connecticut. The Huskies have been a steady force in the Big East since the program’s founding and are looking to continue to cling to their tradition of excellence this year. Connecticut is one of only two teams – the other being North Carolina – that has made it to the NCAA tournament every year.

“This is an exciting weekend,” Nolan said. “We’ve got a big game against Connecticut. They’re always a team to beat for the Big East Championship.” This year, however, the Huskies are having a leaner year, putting together a season record of 6-8-5 and a conference record of 4-3-4, a step down from last year’s overall record of 14-6-2 and Big East finish of 8-2-1. Still, the Huskies will not be backing down without a fight.

While many have Georgetown pegged as the favorite going into the contest, Nolan is hesitant to agree with that assessment. Given the long streak of making it to the NCAA tournament, the Huskies have a lot to live up to. And in order to keep that postseason streak going, Connecticut will have to win the Big East championship this year. “I’m sure this Connecticut team won’t want to be labeled as the team that broke the streak of qualifying for the NCAA’s,” the coach said.

Georgetown traditionally has not fared well against the Huskies, as the Hoyas have come out on top only two times in the past 11 meetings between the two schools. However, the Blue and Gray seems to be beginning to turn the tide against UConn in their favor in recent years. Georgetown beat Connecticut 1-0 in last year’s Big East quarterfinal round off a penalty kick from Ingrid Wells. And during the ’06 season, the Hoyas beat out the Huskies 2-0 at home.

“We’re in a great position right now,” Nolan said, “but we’re going to have our hands full.”

Georgetown will try to continue its winning streak against UConn and continue its outstanding season this weekend. The Hoyas and Huskies face off on Sunday at 1 p.m. on the North Kehoe Field.

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