JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Freshman midfielder Arun Basjulevic has two goals this season.
JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA
Freshman midfielder Arun Basjulevic has two goals this season.

When the Georgetown men’s soccer (4-1-3) team takes the field in Indianapolis, Ind., against Butler University this Saturday, it will be ranked 11th in the nation. The team has spent much of the last three seasons in the top 15 spots in the NCAA rankings, and Head Coach Brian Wiese has created a competitive program almost from scratch. Wiese, who is in the midst of his eighth year at Georgetown, and his staff have recruited every one of the players on the squad.

“[The coaching staff] looks at a lot of components [in recruits]. On the soccer side of it, are they the right kind of player? … Are they going to be good ambassadors? We drop kids that may be great players because we think there might be something there that will be a problem off the field,” Wiese said.

Georgetown has undeniably had great success at selecting talent, but that talent must also select Georgetown. An elite high school soccer player might choose to become a Hoya because of the program’s recent track record of putting players into Major League Soccer. For some of the most highly touted recruits, however, the reasoning behind their choice in school was the same as that of the average student on campus.

“The fact that the school is very good at soccer and that the education aspect of it is high end, [that] is what led me to come to Georgetown,” freshman midfielder Christopher Lema said.

Forward Steve Neumann, who graduated in 2014 and now plays for the New England Revolution, embodies this balance between academic and athletic achievement. Neumann graduated from the McDonough School of Business in three and a half years — in time to join the Revolution for the beginning of the season. Both Lema and freshman midfielder Arun Basuljevic intend to follow the same seven-semester path.

“My family is big on education,” Basuljevic said. “They are huge on it, especially my mom. My brother goes to Columbia, so we wanted to continue that tradition of going to a pretty good school.”

The freshmen this season have already begun to positively contribute. Basuljevic has scored twice this season as a substitute, including recording the game-winning goal in the Hoyas’ 1-0 win over the College of William and Mary. Lema has played his way into the starting lineup after five games as a substitute and an assist in a 1-1 tie against No. 4 University of California, Irvine. Freshman midfielder Declane McCabe has also seen playing time in two games.

Georgetown has a unique place in the college-soccer landscape as an elite East Coast school with a top-tier soccer program that offers scholarship support. Both Wiese and Basuljevic mentioned the University of Notre Dame and Stanford University as having similar programs, but Georgetown stands alone in the Mid-Atlantic region.

This has allowed Georgetown to attract top talent from states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and especially New York. The players on the roster from the Class of 2014 include Lema, ranked 13th in the IMG Academy top 150, Basuljevic, ranked 23rd, and McCabe, ranked 43rd. Lema and Basuljevic hail from New York but McCabe calls Chicago, Ill.  home. Other top talent from across the country includes sophomore defender Joshua Yaro and sophomore midfielder Bakie Goodman. The ability to recruit in large states like California and Florida is where Georgetown’s recent achievements become an advantage.

“The more recent successes have made our name more prevalent when you talk to people. People are aware of us,” Wiese said. “I think one of the bigger advantages is that people have seen us play more. The fact that players in California and Oregon and the Midwest or Florida can see you play goes a long way, too.”

Despite a nationwide recruiting presence, the Hoyas’ connection to New York and the New York Red Bulls Academy is a special case. Four players — Lema, Basuljevic, sophomore forward Alex Muyl and junior forward Brandon Allen — played in the Red Bulls’ system. If current prospect Kyle Zajec maintains his current commitment to attend Georgetown in 2015, as reported by topdrawersoccer.com, then the Hoyas will have at least one player from the Red Bulls at every level — from senior to freshman.

“Knowing that two top players like [Allen and Muyl] came to Georgetown shows you what kind of program this is. So I believe that if they can do it, I can do it, too, and maybe just keep a little bit of the Red Bull family here in D.C.,” Lema said.

These combined sterling academic and soccer reputations have led to a team that is likely to contend for a conference championship for the third straight year and have attracted even more talented players for next season. In addition to Zajec, topdrawersoccer.com reports that defender Peter Schropp — ranked 19th in his class — and goalkeeper James Marcinkowski — ranked seventh — have verbally committed to become Hoyas next season. These players likely based their decisions on the same benefits that attending Georgetown has offered past players as well as the general student body.

“The balance between [academics and on-field success] — there really are not many programs like that around,” Basuljevic said.

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