Entering its 2015 season, the No. 25 Georgetown men’s soccer team (1-2-1 overall, 0-0-0 Big East) boasted a defense that had the potential to be the envy of the NCAA. All four starters — seniors Cole Seiler, Josh Turnley and Keegan Rosenberry and junior Joshua Yaro — returned for the Hoyas, creating a back line to be reckoned with. In 2015, all four players became co-captains. The defense was expected to lead the way for a team with national championship ambitions.
Those expectations seemed warranted. Yaro was named Big East Preseason Defensive Player of the Year just prior to the start of the 2015 season. He could have been the No. 1 overall MLS draft pick had he not chosen to return to school. His talent has drawn the attention and praise of teammates, opponents and professional scouts.
Not to be overlooked, however, are the three seniors who have seen extended minutes on defense since 2013. Seiler and Rosenberry started for the Hoyas in the national championship game in 2012 and have been starters ever since. Turnley stepped into the starting 11 the following year. The experience gained by spending several seasons competing as college athletes is an extremely valuable asset.
“They’re all superior athletically now. When they were freshmen, they were always athletic. Now they are men playing with boys, as opposed to athletic boys playing with men,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.
In addition to the on-the-field growth enjoyed by Seiler, Rosenberry and Turnley, the three of them have taken larger leadership roles as well.Seiler is the most vocal member of the defense, martialing his teammates into position. Rosenberry and Turnley are motivational forces in their own ways, and all three possess four years of wisdom to share with their younger teammates.
“A lot of it is leadership. They know what they are doing, and they are teaching guys around them,” Wiese said.
Georgetown had a daunting defense on paper as it took the field for its first match of the year. It seemed so solid that Wiese felt comfortable moving Rosenberry up to the midfield in that game.
Then the injuries hit. Turnley hurt his shoulder in the season opener and missed the next two matches. Yaro has yet to return from a leg injury suffered in the second game of the season. Seiler nearly missed the victory over UCLA because of knocks to his knee and ankle picked up earlier in the weekend.
“The challenge of our season so far is that we’ve had our vaunted back four, this big, hyped group. It’s warranted,” Wiese said. “It’s the best back four I think I’ll have ever been around. But we’ve only had them for all of 25 minutes of the season.”
Instead of the seasoned veterans, Wiese has turned to a series of fresh faces. Freshmen defenders Brendan McDonough, Peter Schropp and Kyle Zajec and junior defender P.J. Koscher have all started games for the Hoyas this season.
The performances of these players have been mixed so far. McDonough looked strong against UCLA, using his size to disrupt attacks by a talented Bruins’ offense. Zajec, a converted midfielder who is still learning the defender position, seemed lost at times against Akron. Of course, he still has plenty of time at Georgetown to grow into a defensive role. The fact that any of these players has been called upon speaks to their talent and ability.
Despite this young talent, the team will certainly be both relieved and excited to see its first-choice starters return to health. When that day comes, the Georgetown defense may truly begin to live up to its lofty potential.
“We’ve had guys who have come in and done, to their credit, a really good job,” Wiese said. “The good news is that, knock on wood, we’re starting to get healthy.”
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