With an undefeated record and several huge Big East Conference wins, the Georgetown women’s soccer team is on fire so far this season. Head Coach Dave Nolan and his squad have gotten off to the best start since Nolan took over the program, and their flawless record of 8-0-2 and national ranking of 18th have them on track to have their winningest season in four years.

But the Hoyas have not always been the force that they have proven to be over the past few years.

When Nolan was appointed head coach in 2004, the Hoyas were coming off a rough season in Big East play, losing all six of the team’s conference matchups. The outlook of Nolan’s first season with the Hoyas was to improve the squad’s play in all aspects, but it was not going to be an easy road. Not only did the Hoyas have a lineup that was light on veteran experience and heavy on underclassmen, they were dealing with a lack of support from the university.

“Georgetown has always been a school that has attracted some good players,” Nolan says. “The biggest issue we always faced was, in comparison to the rest of our conference, we were never a well-funded sport.”

But with the appointment of Athletic Director Bernard Muir in 2005 and Big East Conference policy changes, the women’s soccer team received increased financial support, allowing Nolan and the rest of the staff to develop a stronger program.

“We were able to go out and attract quality student athletes,” Nolan says of the increase in scholarships from Georgetown. “That has helped dramatically.”

The augmentation of scholarship available to the women’s soccer team got the program on equal footing with the rest of their competition financially, but, as Nolan points out, that was only half the battle.

“Like anything, just having a checkbook, you can’t just go out and buy success,” Nolan says. “You have to build piece by piece because all that has done now is put us on the same footing as all our competitors. . But you need a great program to attract good players, and you need good players for a great program.”

With increased support from the university, the squad’s performance definitely improved in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, the Hoyas racked up five Big East conference wins, ending the season with a conference record of 5-4-1 and an overall showing of 9-9-1, the team’s best winning record since 2002. The team also made it to the Big East tournament and proved to be a postseason force as they nearly made it to the semifinal round.

The 2005 season proved to be one of the program’s best. Georgetown compiled an overall season record of 12-8-1 and a 4-6-1 Big East finish. The Hoyas also made it to the Big East tournament for a second consecutive year, a first in the program’s history. Georgetown defeated Syracuse in the first round of the tournament but fell to Notre Dame in the quarterfinals.

Coming off of a strong season in 2005, the 2006 season may have been a tough year for the Hoyas. The squad compiled a season record of 5-9-5 and a disappointing conference record of 2-7-2. Still, the increased success of the team in the previous years had begun to attract great players. In the 2007 season, freshman midfielder Ingrid Wells was one of those great players, as she led the team in goals scored and assists that season, and attracted national attention when she was named the Big East rookie of the year.

“Ingrid is a player that can take you to places and put you on the map and attract more great players,” Nolan says.

Wells’ freshman season went so well that she was tabbed to play on the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team, meaning that she would miss her sophomore season at Georgetown. While her absence from the roster is unfortunate, Nolan has been extremely impressed with his team’s ability to continue to move forward.

“Last year was definitely a breakout season for us,” Nolan says of the first team in school history to make the NCAA tournament. “This year, I’ve been surprised at where we are right now. I thought we would have to regroup a little bit from where we were last year, but this team has just continued on. I think the culture now in our program now is to keep moving along.”

And they are moving along indeed. The Hoyas remain undefeated this season and now find themselves ranked among the top 20 soccer teams in the nation. “We have now moved ourselves to the upper echelon of schools,” Nolan says. “Our competition now becomes Stanford, Duke, Virginia, Notre Dame – and that’s good competition.

“We understand we’re still a work in progress, and each year we’re looking to get better and better and better.”

The outlook for the rest of the season looks bright for the Hoyas, albeit tough. The Hoyas will now have to make up two games that were postponed this weekend, along with several more difficult Big East matchups. Still, Nolan feels confident about his squad’s prospects.

“I’m really excited about the run-in for this season,” Nolan says. “I’m really excited to see how we finish this season and I’m excited about the future as well.”

The Hoyas’ next contest is this Friday against the powerhouse from Notre Dame. The Irish are a perfect 10-0, and are ranked first in the nation.

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