FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Sophomore Tyler Rudy scored against Princeton last season.
Sophomore Tyler Rudy scored against Princeton last season.

After spending last weekend road-tripping to a pair of midwestern state schools, the No. 12 Georgetown men’s soccer team will face a different type of duo this weekend.

The Blue and Gray (5-0-1) will travel to Princeton on Friday before returning to the Hilltop for a Sunday afternoon matchup with fellow Ivy Leaguers Penn (0-4).

The Tigers (1-2) have played three games thus far this year — only half of the Hoyas’ six — and their record doesn’t seem to indicate that they are much of a threat. Georgetown, however, will be Princeton’s fourth tough Big East matchup to start the season. The Tigers defeated Seton Hall in their opener but lost to St. John’s and Rutgers their last two times out.

Due to the Tigers’ strong competition so far, Head Coach Brian Wiese spoke with caution when discussing the challenges that Princeton will pose.

“They are dangerous in a lot of ways, and it’s too young a season to say ‘Oh, they’re a below-.500 team or an above-.500 team,’” Wiese said. “The two games they lost were against two of the better teams in the Big East, two teams that were in the NCAA tournament last year.

“I think playing at home in another big game [means] you’re going to get a good performance from them. And for us, we’re into game seven now, and now it’s [about whether] we can keep ourselves going.”

That has yet to be a problem for his team, which still hasn’t dropped a game this season. Maintaining a high energy level late in games has proven even less of a problem, as seven of the Hoyas’ 10 goals on the season have come in the second half or in overtime.

On the other hand, slow starts have become a problem lately — particularly against Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin last weekend. Georgetown was favored in both contests but found itself down 2-0 early to UIC and 1-0 to UW, both difficult holes from which to emerge victorious.

That’s a trend, of course, that can’t become a habit if the team wants to continue with its winning ways. Their records may say otherwise — Penn is still winless — but Wiese made clear that Georgetown’s opponents this weekend can and will take advantage of any Hoya miscues.

Because of their style of play, the Quakers — who Wiese called “unlucky” in several close losses — may be the more dangerous of the Hoyas’ two weekend opponents.

“If it’s a game where we have the ball — and we want the ball — it might be exactly what they want, because all it takes is one pass, one ball, and they’ve got these guys up front who will be putting on the afterburners and getting in behind you,” Wiese said. “So our strengths potentially could fall in nicely for what they want the game to be like, and that makes it always a little unnerving.”

Wiese and his staff are all too familiar with what Penn is capable of, having played them at North Kehoe Field two years ago and suffered a devastating defeat. Up one at the half, Georgetown gave up three goals to the visitors in an epic second-half collapse.

The Hoyas will be apt to avoid a similar fate when they host their rematch on Sunday, but this series has traditionally not been easy on them. Wiese remarked that recording two wins this weekend would be “a tremendous accomplishment.”

The Blue and Gray will be sporting special gold laces in conjunction with the Go4theGoal Foundation to help raise awareness for pediatric cancer. The team visited the clinic at Lombardi Cancer Center at the end of August, and according to Wiese, the experience was a powerful one for the players.

“It keeps some things in perspective for the guys, to be honest with you,” he said. “I think the guys are excited about trying to help in the little way that we can, and hopefully, we build some awareness in the bigger picture for it.”

Princeton plays host to Georgetown on Friday, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

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