The seniors of the Georgetown men’s soccer team had no doubt about the correct answer to the last question of a recent interview: If the six seniors on the roster played against themselves as they were four years ago as freshmen, who would win that game and why?
“We would dominate them now. Just physically,” senior defender and co-captain Cole Seiler said.
That may very well be true, but they were certainly nothing to overlook as freshmen. This senior class came to Georgetown just prior to the 2012 season. Head Coach Brian Wiese and his staff had earned commitments from many of their top recruiting targets, although they would not fully realize how good some of those players were until they set foot on campus. Even then, few would have predicted the careers that those six freshmen would end up having.
Their impact on the program was felt from the outset of the 2012 season. Three of the new recruits — Seiler, senior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry and senior forward Brandon Allen — would start regularly. A fourth — senior midfielder Melvin Snoh — would appear in 24 of the team’s 26 matches.
In addition to being the start of their careers, the 2012 season and its trip to the national championship game represented the beginning of a new era in Georgetown soccer. The previous season had ended with an early exit in the Big East tournament and no NCAA bid. The Hoyas have earned a top-five ranking and an NCAA tournament spot in every season since.
“I don’t think I expected to have the success we’ve been having over the last couple years. When you look at schools and start to narrow it down and choose a school, you hope to have the success that you’ve been having. Like I said, it definitely wasn’t something I expected to happen,” Rosenberry said.
For Wiese, the team’s recent success and the presence of this senior class is no coincidence. While other key members have come and gone, these players have been a constant presence on the roster throughout the most successful years in program history.
“Coach Wiese definitely assured me when I was going through my recruiting process that he felt like the class that was coming in, what would have been my class, was definitely a special group … that they could eventually build the program around,” Seiler said.
Building the program around these six players is exactly what Wiese and his staff have done. The group has a combined 299 starts over the last four years, with Snoh and senior defender David Witkoff providing many more appearances off the bench. In that time, they have recorded 47 goals and 52 assists.
Allen has become one of the nation’s best goal-scorers, and Seiler, Rosenberry and defender Josh Turnley currently anchor a back line that is the envy of the NCAA. As many as four or five of them will likely have the opportunity to play professionally after this season.
All the rankings, statistics and personal success have not, however, brought a Big East or national title. The team came close in 2012, falling in double overtime to Notre Dame in the conference title game and losing 1-0 to Indiana in the College Cup final.
This year’s seniors have only one more opportunity to win a championship.
“After our long postseason runs, in your conversation you’re like, ‘Well, at least we have next year,” Seiler said. “Being our senior year, it’s our last try at it. Personally, I’m trying to be more [cognizant] of details and making sure I’m not taking days off from practice, as I have in years past.”
Qualities like attention to detail and commitment to practice are what have made Seiler, Rosenberry and senior defender Josh Turnley — who Wiese described as the best left back in the nation — effective co-captains this season. Wiese believes they learned many of those traits from the seniors in 2012. Now, it is time for this year’s class to pass on its own knowledge.
“The great thing for the current group [of freshmen] is that they are seeing how it’s done by a lot of people who are doing it right. [The seniors] handle themselves professionally with preparation, with how you eat, how you sleep, how you approach training,” Wiese said.
Georgetown has a special group of players on the field and leaders off it. However, it still remains to be seen if this year’s senior class can power the Hoyas to the elusive promised land of a conference or national title. Early returns this season have been encouraging, as the team has not lost a game when all six of its most experienced members have been healthy and available. Unfortunately for the Hoyas, this window is closing quickly.
Four of the six seniors — Allen, Rosenberry, Seiler and Turnley — will graduate at the end of the fall semester, a move that will allow them to enter the MLS SuperDraft in January or pursue other professional opportunities. For these players, their time as Georgetown students is even shorter than their fellow members of the Class of 2016. As their time on campus draws to a close, the group has fond memories of their careers both as students and as athletes.
“It’s been a rollercoaster, but it’s been an enjoyable rollercoaster for me,” Snoh said.
Allen agreed before adding his own take on his time as a Hoya.
“It has been the best three and a half years of my life so far, just meeting all these friends and teammates. It’s been a great experience,” Allen said.
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