Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore forward Kaiser Chowdhry and the Hoyas hope to continue their tournament run.

This evening, the Hoyas will take the field against No. 14 Boston College in a familiar underdog situation in the Big East semifinals under the lights of Rutgers Soccer Stadium in Piscataway, N. J.

After knocking out Notre Dame 2-1 in overtime last weekend, Georgetown looks for a repeat upset against the tournament’s top seed and Big East regular season title holder. They know it will not be easy, having already lost to the Eagles 3-1 on Sept. 28. Boston College has the momentum of a five-game winning streak including a confidence-building 4-0 romp over Providence in the Big East quarterfinals.

Still, the Hoyas have raised their level of competition. After a disheartening 4-1 thrashing by Virginia Tech, the team resuscitated itself from the brink of exclusion from the postseason by a 3-0-1 streak including two victories over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, currently No. 19 and perennial powerhouse No. 2 St. John’s. While their quarterfinal in South Bend, Ind., left much to be desired, the team showed they had determination, skills and the focus to win in high pressure situations on the road.

“Really all we’re thinking about doing is playing as well as we can. That’s really where the focus has been the last couple of weeks. The results fortunately have fallen to the right side,” Head Coach Keith Tabatznik said.

Georgetown pulled itself up to .500 for the first time this season after its victory over the Fighting Irish, but this reflects a season’s worth of ups and downs and does not reflect the progress this team has made. Eight or nine freshmen and sophomores generally start or play large portions of the game, so the team needed some time to mature and develop. Earlier in the season the team gave up some games falling off in the second half, but the stronger second half play and overtime victories the team has posted demonstrate improvement and greater focus.

The loss of senior goalkeeper Brian O’Hagan in mid-September because of an injury left a vacuum in terms of on-field leadership and put junior goalkeeper Tim Hogan permanently into that spot. Hogan has managed to defend the goal well and the team has shown a more collective effort throughout the season, trying to compensate as much as possible.

In the end, though, it will take a lot of effort and skill to overcome Boston College, a strong team with an impressive record. The team will definitely need to play at its optimal levels and show some of the intensity that beat Notre Dame and tied St. John’s, and only Friday will tell.

“We’re almost always in the roll of underdogs. We’ve had runs in the tournament where we’ve played really well and we’ve knocked off the number one seed a couple times. It’s a great motivator for us,” Tabatznik said.

In the other semifinal matchup, tournament No. 2 seed St. John’s faces Connecticut. Both teams have top 10 rankings and compete on a national level. This is a generally high profile pairing. Earlier in the season the Red Storm of St. John’s edged the University of Connecticut Huskies 1-0, but anything could happen here. UConn has won its last four games and beat Rutgers 1-0 in the quarterfinals. St. John’s has only lost one game this season, a 1-0 loss to Boston College in the first game. They beat Seton Hall 2-0 in the quarterfinals. The Huskies and UConn battle it out in the game preceding the Hoyas’.

If the Hoyas do upset the Eagles on Friday night, they advance to the finals on Sunday. Georgetown has finished runner-up in the postseason tournament in 1994, 1998 and 1999. A victory there, a first for the school, would definitely earn them a spot for a third time in the NCAA College Cup. Without the championship, they lie in a precarious position at the will of the tournament coordinators. The other three semifinalists have a much easier time; they essentially have locked up places in the NCAA tournament.

“There is a chance that if we make it to the finals, we would be on the bubble for the NCAA. We would have beaten some really good teams to get there, we have one of the toughest schedules in the country and were certainly one of the hotter teams the latter part of this season,” Tabatznik said. “Those all count for something, but it’s all so secondary to going out this weekend and winning that game.”

Whether the team succeeds against Boston College or not, the Hoyas have accomplished much this season. They finished fifth in the league, overcame daunting competitors, and developed as a team. They are still young and show promise for the future. Hopefully, though, this is all premature and the Hoyas can look forward to an extended postseason as well.

“The team has to realize that there is another level that they can still step up to,” Tabatznik said. “They’re playing really well right now, but they can elevate to another level. If they reach it, they can do a lot of damage in this tournament.”

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