In the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament, the Georgetown men’s soccer team (1-2-1) experienced a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks to Virginia — a team that went on to win the 2014 National Championship.
Nonetheless, this loss had little impact on expectations for the Hoyas in their 2015 campaign. Georgetown was ranked third in the nation, and with the return of star junior defender Joshua Yaro despite the lure of Major League Soccer and a history of solid offensive production, Georgetown was set to be a powerhouse team on both sides of the field. Yaro and senior forward Brandon Allen were named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List, which compiles the players most likely to win the award for the best college soccer player in the nation. In addition, Yaro and Allen were named the Big East Preseason Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year, respectively.
If that weren’t enough, sophomore midfielder Arun Basuljevic, who was named the Big East Freshman of the Year last season after scoring six goals in his debut season, returned to campus a year older and more experienced. Junior forward Alex Muyl and junior midfielder Bakie Goodman also returned after productive sophomore seasons.
Despite all of this, No. 25 Georgetown floundered when its season began, going winless in its first three matches.
“This is maybe the most talented team I’ve ever had, and we were off to the worst start I’ve ever had. So how do you justify that? As a coach you don’t sleep a lot, you try to figure out what’s going on and you try to find out who has the Georgetown soccer voodoo doll; they’re sticking pins into us to start the season,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.
In part, the team’s struggles were due to injury, as Yaro, senior defender Josh Turnley and senior defender Cole Seiler suffered injuries in recent games. Turnley and Seiler, however, were able to return for the team’s most recent game, and they both made an impact as the Hoyas earned their first win in dramatic fashion, 3-1 over UCLA (2-2-1), which was the top-ranked team in the nation at the time.
“I’m really proud of the performance from the guys against a team that may be a College Cup kind of team at the end of the day,” Wiese said.
Georgetown will look to build momentum after the win as it moves forward into its schedule. Freshman goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski has been a standout early in the season, making several spectacular saves in recent games.
“[Marcinkowski] has been unbelievable,” senior midfielder/defender Keegan Rosenberry said after the win over UCLA. “He’s got great confidence for a freshman, and for a goalkeeper that’s huge. And the back line certainly appreciates it.”
Wiese echoed Rosenberry’s praise.
“J.T. in goal, as a freshman, that guy continues to be special,” Wiese said.
Despite the injuries that have plagued the team early on, the Hoyas still count depth as one of their key strengths. Late in games, Wiese has been able to use his deep roster to substitute liberally, which allows him to get fresh players into the game.
“It’s nice to have so many good players. We’re so deep this year … and it pays off, especially come late minutes in the game when we have to sub guys on, and we take advantage of that,” Rosenberry said.
Another advantage for the Hoyas may come from their home crowd. Georgetown set a record for student attendance with 905 fans in attendance at the Akron game Sept. 4, only to promptly break that record with 933 fans in attendance for the game against UCLA on Sept 7.
“[The crowd support] has gotten so much better over the years, and the fans have been awesome to start the year so far. It’s so much easier for us to get up for a game, especially for a higher-ranked team when we’ve got a lot of fans beside us. It’s a lot of fun,” Rosenberry said.
The Hoyas play their next game Saturday against Radford University (3-0-1) at Shaw Field.
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