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Senior forward Peter Grasso looks to end his Hoya career in style

The Hoya seniors have other thoughts as their peers look to graduate schools and job applications. In this last leg of their collegiate journey together, the seniors are looking to go out with a bang.

And the fire to light the fuse of what all fans hope will be end-of-season fireworks for the Hoyas has already been sparked, in the form of a display of skill, confidence and leadership by senior midfielder Peter Grasso.

Grasso kicked off the Hoyas’ season with a goal in each of the two games played thus far, earning himself the accolade of most outstanding offensive player in the Cal State-Northridge tournament last weekend and a spot on the all-tournament team, alongside a number of his teammates.

Head Coach Brian Wiese praised his forward’s performance in California.

“His first goal against Northridge could be called a lucky goal, but he made his own luck.” Wiese said. “He created that goal by being in the right place at the right time. He put in the effort and it bounced off him in the right way and into the goal. And that’s how most strikers will get their goals – not all goals are pretty, sexy goals. Some are mutter’s goals and some are highlight-tape-reel goals, and this was a mutter’s goal on Friday.

“But on Sunday, it was a highlight-reel goal; it was a terrific goal, coming off terrific buildup. . It was an incredibly difficult goal, but he took it really well. For forwards, goals can change a lot – they can give you a lot more confidence. And Pete’s the most confident he’s ever been.”

Grasso will need this confidence to finish his Hoya career in style. The Illinois native has had his ups and downs in his years at Georgetown since he first set foot on campus in 2005, a long way away from the Hinsdale Central High School where he graduated.

His first season saw him start 14 of the 20 games he played as a defender – a role significantly different than his attacking position on field right now. Grasso recorded seven shots in the season and was responsible for an assist in the Hoyas’ win against Manhattan.

“Coach wouldn’t like to hear this,” Grasso jokes, “But my most natural position is probably outside right defense; that’s where I played freshman year.”

Yet, Grasso’s versatility on the field enabled the coach to use him in the attacking half of the pitch for the 2006 season.

His starting role waned as he started just two of the 16 games he played, but he nearly doubled his shot numbers from the last season to 11 and recorded another assist, this time in a win against George Washington.

Last year was, as Wiese describes, a “tough year” for the stocky 6-foot-1 attacker. With a team of 11 incoming freshmen vying for a spot on the starting roster, Grasso saw significantly fewer minutes on the field. He played just seven games all season, starting in two. Yet, he put in the work and effort in the spring and over the summer to make his way back up the ranks, and this preseason saw a new Grasso in training and on the field – aggressive, driven and more confident than ever.

“He’s feeling good and he’s playing good,” Wiese said. “He’s one of these guys who’s made the decision to have a last go at it for his senior year and he’s done a heck of a job.”

Grasso has stepped up the level of personal expectation for the upcoming season: “I would hope to score a good amount of goals – at least 10 this whole year – and establish myself as a pretty good player in the Big East. That’s really all I can ask for.”

“He’s a big, tough son of a gun, and he’s hard to move,” said Wiese. “He’s one of these immovable objects and when he’s playing well, he’s a real handful. And when he’s playing well, we want him on the field.”

Not just Grasso, but the whole team has set its sights high for the season, and whisperings of reclaiming that which the Hoyas have not had for a decade – a spot in the NCAA tournament – have been sending a thrill down the spines of everyone under the Blue and Gray banner, coaches, fans and team members alike.

“It all started last spring,” Grasso explains, “with the whole team going in early mornings throughout the weekdays and just working hard, whether it was in the weight room or on the field. We’ve been preparing all the way since then. What I can really ask for is to make the NCAA tournament, which hasn’t been done for 10 years. That’s what we’re all set for as a team.”

The tournament, however, is still a long way away; the immediate future sees the Hoyas matchup at home against Davidson – one of three Hoya teams facing off against the Wildcats this weekend.

Both the coach and Grasso emphasized the importance of the home crowd in the game, and expressed their desire to win in front of Hoya supporters.

“Whenever there’s a home game and everyone comes out to cheer for you, there’s definitely a special feel to it and you don’t want to lose on your home turf,” Grasso said.

The opponents don’t have a huge reputation in the soccer department, but Wiese is cautious of their abilities.

“We don’t really know a huge amount about them,” he said, “but they’re going to come out ready to play. They’ve got a couple of players who can really hurt you if you don’t take care of things.”

Wiese does not expect to make any significant changes to his team for next Friday. “We like to be aware of what the other team is going to do, but we don’t make changes ourselves. We like to impose our style on that team.”

“We know that Davidson is going to be a good team,” Grasso added, “but we’re expecting nothing but to win.”

The Hoyas will face off against the Wildcats on North Kehoe Field today. The starting whistle is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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