FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Sophomore Defender Joseph Yaro
FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA
Sophomore Defender Joshua Yaro

The Georgetown men’s soccer team (0-0-2) entered the 2014 season ranked ninth overall, riding the strength of a 2013 campaign in which the team went 14-5-2 and won the regular-season Big East title. However, that team also lost in the first round of the Big East tournament and exited the NCAA tournament in just the second round after an upset loss at home against Michigan State. This year’s team returns nine starters looking to atone for last season’s inauspicious postseason exits.

One of those starters, senior goalkeeper and captain Tomas Gomez, has played in a national championship game, a Big East tournament championship game and started every match last season. For him, the unfinished business lies not in the unpredictable NCAA tournament but against conference rivals.

“One of the main goals is to win the Big East tournament championship, which we have never done. I would like to come away from school with that,” Gomez said.

Head Coach Brian Wiese defines a successful season in a different way than the players or fans might. For Wiese, his job is as much about developing his players as it is about wins and losses, and his goals for the team are likewise not about a trophy or a plaque to display in McDonough Arena.

“The barometer of success this year is really just whether we can fulfill the potential of what this team is,” Wiese said. “You can look at it by how far you get in the tournament … but for me you are always looking at it as how well are we playing as a group.”

One thing both Wiese and Gomez did agree on was the importance of a set of players who have the potential to become the best centerback pair in the nation.

Junior defender Cole Seiler and sophomore defender Joshua Yaro led a stout Georgetown back line that led the country in shutout percentage and ranked second in goals allowed in 2013. Seiler started every game for the Hoyas, and Yaro impressed so much during his freshman year that he is an early season favorite to be granted a Generation Adidas contract by Major League Soccer, allowing him to enter the league two years early.

“The two of them allow us to be who we are as a team, more than any other factor. Their play with the ball and their decision-making – I wouldn’t trade the two of them for anybody else in the country,” Wiese said.

As a goalkeeper, Gomez has a special appreciation for the defenders in front of him. He set a season record at Georgetown for shutouts with 12 and was fourth in the nation in average goals allowed, at just 0.44 per game. Seiler and Yaro, along with junior defenders Josh Turnley and captain Keegan Rosenberry, played a large role in creating those impressive statistics.

“If you saw last year, you saw that my job was very easy,” Gomez said, “It was probably the best back four in the country. This year I am going to be called upon sometimes, but I assume they are going to stop it before it even comes to me.”

In addition to relying on the back four for a repeat of their 2013 regular-season performances, Georgetown will need to find offense from junior forward Brandon Allen, sophomore forward Alex Muyl, and midfielders such as sophomore Bakie Goodman and senior Tom Skelly.

Beyond producing scoring opportunities as individuals, the players also must develop relationships with their teammates and a sense of patience in order to reach their potential as a unit, according to Wiese.

“They have to understand the team identity, but they also have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the guys playing next to them,” Wiese said. “We have to be patient that the season is not won and lost on any given game. It’s an evolution.”

The high expectations placed on the team by fans and the team itself do have some positive side effects. Several years of success have brought a great deal of attention to the program, both on campus and in the larger soccer community. Large attendance numbers — including a record 1,491  fans who attended a regular season match against Creighton last season, nearly filling the 1,625 capacity of Shaw Field — have come as a result of recent success.

In that vein, a slew of impressive recruits, as well as alumni playing professionally by way of the MLS SuperDraft are both effects of an emerging powerhouse that is growing in consistency. The growth of the program’s popularity has also made Wiese’s job more enjoyable than it was when he arrived at Georgetown in 2006.

“I have a lot of gray hairs from my early years. I make no secrets about it, there was a lot of pressure on me after our second year,” Wiese said. “[Now] I really do like watching this team play.”

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