FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Junior Striker Brandon Allen
FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
Junior Striker Brandon Allen

Two games into the season and the Georgetown men’s soccer team (0-0-2) has already played the past two NCAA tournament champions, Indiana and Notre Dame. But this is just the beginning for the Hoyas, as they have a grueling 2014 season.

Against the Hoosiers — a rematch of the 2012 College Cup Final — the Hoyas fought back from a first-half deficit and tied the game late early in the second half on a goal by junior forward Brandon Allen. Although both teams had several opportunities in second half and ensuing overtime periods, neither team was able to capitalize and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Hoyas had a quick turnaround faced the preseason No. 1 Notre Dame on Sunday. In a defensive battle, neither team had many opportunities and the game finished in a 0-0 tie.

But the upcoming schedule does not get any easier for the Hoyas. In September, Georgetown will face four preseason ranked opponents — No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 25 VCU, No. 16 UC Irvine and No. 2 Maryland.

“[In my] first year of scheduling, in 2007, we put together a schedule that was really hard. It was harder than that team was able to handle,” Wiese said. “At the end of the day, that team wasn’t good enough to get into the NCAA tournament.”

In recent years, however, Georgetown has transformed into an elite program and therefore their scheduling philosophy has changed accordingly.

FILE PHOTO: ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA Junior Defender Keegan Rosenberry
FILE PHOTO: ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA
Junior Defender Keegan Rosenberry

“The team is either good enough or they are not. If the team is not good enough, it doesn’t matter how you schedule,” Wiese said. “If the team is good enough and you schedule properly and schedule a hard schedule, you should win enough of them that will serve you well for your postseason goals.”

The advantages in playing a tough pre-conference schedule lie in the boost to the team’s ratings percentage index. This statistic has been used heavily in determining college soccer and basketball seeds in postseason tournaments since 1981. RPI is based on a team’s wins and losses and their strength of schedule, and is utilized to compare teams that have not faced each other in regular-season play.

Wiese said the other advantage of playing a tough schedule is that it prepares the team for the Big East tournament and NCAA tournament. The hope is that by playing skilled teams early on, Georgetown will be prepared for a long run against more talented opposition in November.

“In 2012 when we made the run to the national championship game, we put together what ended up being not a very hard [non-conference] schedule and a lot of that was because the Big East that year was having an absolutely fabulous season,” Wiese said.

A strong Big East means that the team does not necessarily need a tough schedule early on, because the team will inevitably be challenged come conference play.”

That year’s squad was able to begin the season with an astounding 9-0-2 record before heading into more challenging conference play. This year, the Big East features just Georgetown and Creighton in the top 25, necessitating a stronger non-conference slate of matches.

For Wiese, each opponent is scheduled for a specific purpose.

“Let’s not simply categorize teams into ‘good’ or ‘bad,’” Wiese said. “Each game is its own challenge. Some strain your defense more than others, some games make your attacking group solve the problems and some games like the Notre Dame game we just played make everybody be good.”

When discussing his team’s prospects, Wiese was cautiously optimistic.

“I do think the team has the potential to be the best team I have ever coached if we get it right but a lot is yet to be determined with that,” he said.

Notably, the Hoyas roster features Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year junior forward Brandon Allen. Last season, Allen started all 21 games for the Hoyas and scored a team-high 11 goals. While Allen is expected to lead the offensive attack, the defense is anchored by solid back-four defenders, including standout junior captain Keegan Rosenberry.

The team’s success will hinge in part on its home-field advantage at Shaw Field. Wiese expects big crowds to greet the Hoyas this season.

“I think if you are fan of soccer, then our field will be a fabulous place to watch games this year. I think we got a fun team to watch and we are bringing in fun teams to put us to the test,” Wiese said.

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