The last time the Georgetown men’s soccer team (2-2-1) went on the road, it returned with a disappointing 0-1-1 record. As away games at Virginia Commonwealth (2-4) and West Virginia (2-4) loom, the team will hope to return to campus this time with a pair of wins.
The Hoyas are certainly in better form now than they were when they made the trip down to Florida to begin the season. The team won its last two games, most recently routing Radford (3-1-1) 5-2 last Saturday. The NCAA coaches’ poll may have dropped Georgetown below the top 25, but it will enter these games more confident than several weeks ago.
Part of that confidence results from the increased offensive production of the last two games. After not scoring in its first three matches, Georgetown put eight goals in the back of the net in its last two matchups. The forwards on the roster have scored seven of those eight goals, including two each from senior Brandon Allen and junior Alex Muyl. Both of those players have the potential to carry the offense, and Head Coach Brian Wiese and his staff hope at least one will begin scoring on a consistent basis.
“A lot of it is just sharpness, trying to get people thinking about shooting more and thinking about getting good deliveries in, getting good numbers in the box and being dangerous while not leaving yourself too bad in the back,” Wiese said.
With five games under its belt, the team will also hope to cut down on the on-the-field mistakes. Georgetown often employs an intricate, passing-heavy system that relies on a strong understanding between the players on the field. Those relationships take time, and the experience thus far should help make passing and off-the-ball movement more precise as time goes on.
Wiese said the team has been working on how to get everyone on the same page, connecting and popping together both on and off the ball. In particular, the team is working on shoring up details on both offense and defense.
According to Wiese, a few games’ worth of experience will help the team’s road performance. Last year’s team went 6-1-1 away from home, which Wiese attributes to a strong defense. This year’s defense will have to be just as stingy as last year’s in order to earn results in away games.
“You get into the groove of the season, and this team certainly has enough experience to do well on the road and to do well consistently,” Wiese said.
The injury concerns that plagued the early stages of the season are also beginning to clear up. Senior defender and co-captain Josh Turnley has started in the last two games and seems to have sufficiently healed from a shoulder injury. Junior defender and co-captain Joshua Yaro is also recovering from a leg injury, though he has yet to play since the second game of the season. Nevertheless, the team is moving closer to full health.
“[Turnley] could have played 90 minutes, no problem,” Wiese said. “Yaro, he’s progressing pretty well. His injury is one where you have to take it day by day and see how it feels.”
Georgetown takes on West Virginia at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Mountaineers have struggled thus far in 2015, dropping games to four unranked teams in a schedule that has yet to include a ranked team. West Virginia averages over two goals per game, though a pair of 6-2 and 6-0 wins has inflated that number. More tellingly, the defense has recorded just one shutout this season and gives up an average of 1.67 goals per game to questionable competition. The Georgetown attack will look to press this shaky West Virginia defense.
Senior forward Ryan Cain has led the West Virginia offense this season, scoring five goals in just six matches. Sophomore midfielder Joey Piatczyc joins Cain at the head of the attack, having recorded a team-leading seven assists in 2015. When the Mountaineers have the ball, the back line for the Hoyas will need to be wary of these players in order to preserve a road shutout.
Wiese, however, has not been focusing on one opponent or group of players in practices. With marquee matchups against No. 10 Maryland and Providence looming, the team has been preparing with an eye to the future. Nevertheless, Georgetown will hope to avoid overlooking the matches in front of them and take advantage of the opportunity to stretch its recent success into a winning streak.
“Hopefully, we get ourselves into a good rhythm. Winning becomes a habit. The easiest thing for any good team is to get into a little bit of groove. Hopefully we’re into that winning groove,” Wiese said.
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