After a weekend of two postponed contests -against Syracuse and St. John’s – due to the norovirus outbreak on campus, Georgetown is gearing up for another tough weekend of Big East play. The Hoyas take on top-ranked Notre Dame today and DePaul on Sunday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish are the top team in the Big East and the nation, compiling a 12-0 record so far this season. Their only loss came in an exhibition game against University of Virginia and, like the Hoyas (8-0-2, 3-0 Big East), Notre Dame heads into the match with an undefeated conference record (5-0).

“Getting to play the top-ranked team is always exciting,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “They’re the team that sets the yardstick and the team we measure ourselves against. Each year, we try to close the gap a little more, and I think we’re getting close.”

Irish Head Coach Randy Waldrum heads a team that has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the Big East for the past decade. The Irish boast a unique offensive style that allows a greater majority of the squad to have scoring opportunities.

“They have a very attacking, open style,” Nolan said. “They are definitely a team that scores a lot of goals.”

The Notre Dame frontline is also heavy on veteran experience, namely in senior forward Kerri Hanks, one of the best attacking players in the country. Hanks is on track to become only the third player in Division I women’s soccer history – behind soccer legend Mia Hamm and Notre Dame alum Jenny Streiffer – to post over 70 goals and 70 assists during a collegiate career. The Irish midfield is also strong, with senior co-captain Brittany Bock leading the midfield. Bock was a first-team all-American in 2007 and the Big East offensive player of the year.

But perhaps Notre Dame’s strongest asset is its defense. Over the past five years, the Irish have held their opponents to 15 goals or fewer per season. And last year, during Notre Dame’s impressive 17-game undefeated streak (16 wins, one tie), the Irish defense allowed only 10 goals and accumulated nine shutouts.

Overall, the Notre Dame squad will definitely pose one of the biggest threats that the Hoyas will face this season. “They definitely pack an explosive punch,” Nolan said. “But the girls are confident. They’ve been working hard in practice all week, and I think they’re ready.”

While DePaul’s record thus far this season may not be quite up to par with that of Notre Dame or Georgetown, coming off what is sure to be a tough contest against Notre Dame, the Hoyas will not be able to sit back in the second matchup of the weekend. The Blue Demons have struggled so far this season, compiling a record of 3-11 (0-5 Big East), but the squad is heavy on experience.

Head Coach Erin Chastain heads the DePaul squad for the second year.

“Erin is a very good coach, lots of good ideas and lots of good energy,” Nolan said.

Still, the Blue Demons have not gotten off to the most impressive start this season, despite returning 16 players from last year’s squad, including their leading scorer, Shannon Williams.

“They haven’t started off as well as they might have wanted, so if they don’t come out of this weekend with anything to show for it, I would imagine that their Big East season is over,” Nolan said.

Given that the Blue Demons have a lot to prove and nothing to lose, the Hoyas should not be fooled by DePaul’s weak record. Nolan said that he hopes his squad does not spend all its energy on the Notre Dame contest on Friday night, because the match against DePaul will still be a test for Georgetown, as all Big East face-offs are. The game will be the Hoyas’ senior day, even though it is not their final game on North Kehoe Field.

“They’re a hard working team, they’re a well-coached team and they play to their strengths,” Nolan said. “They’re going to give us some trouble.”

The action kicks off today at 3 p.m. on North Kehoe Field.

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