MEN'S SOCCER | Battle of Big East's Best
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 02:09
In what promises to be one of the biggest games of the season for the No. 12 Georgetown men’s soccer team (6-2), the Hoyas will play the No. 3 Creighton Bluejays (5-1-1) this Saturday at 1 p.m. A preseason poll of Big East men’s soccer coaches had Georgetown slated as the favorite to win the conference this season. Just behind was Creighton, a newcomer to the conference this year. Now, in the Big East, Creighton is ranked first while Georgetown comes in the No. 3 spot behind Butler. Since the start of the season, Creighton has moved up in the NSCAA poll, and they reached the top spot before losing to William & Mary. Though he is not fixated on their ranking, Georgetown’s Head Coach Brian Wiese has a healthy respect for the Bluejays.
“Rankings are irrelevant, and when you play someone head to head, they are even less [important],” he said. “I’ll be honest, they’re probably the team to beat for the league this year. I think they are playing unbelievable soccer right now, I think they have been on a great run of results.”
The two teams last played in 2006, when Georgetown travelled to Omaha, Neb., to participate in Creighton’s annual Ameritas Classic tournament. That game went to overtime before then-freshman defender Chris Schuler scored for the Bluejays to end the game at 3-2. Schuler has long since graduated, as have all the other players involved in that game. Schuler currently plays for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake. While Georgetown and Creighton have not played recently, they do have in common that both of their seasons were ended by Indiana last year — the Bluejays in the College Cup semifinals and the Hoyas in the finals. To help prepare for the unfamiliar opponent, Coach Wiese has emphasized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities.
“I expect it to be a great game. I expect there to be very little in it,” Wiese said. “It’s going to be a moment or two that is going to win it for one of the teams, and hopefully our guys are the ones taking advantage of those moments.”
The Hoyas will look to continue a series of strong offensive performances against a defense that has had its highs and lows this season. Creighton secured clean sheets against No. 7 Notre Dame in an exhibition game, then-No. 7 St. John’s and then-No. 14 Tulsa, but conceded two to Michigan State on Tuesday and let in three against William & Mary on Sept. 15. Despite the Bluejay’s recent results, the Hoyas are expecting the opposing defense to be solid.
“They are going to press hard. I think we just need to play around them, keep the ball and find our way forward,” sophomore forward Brandon Allen said. “I’m sure we will do well.”
A sturdy Georgetown defense that has held its opponents scoreless in five games this season will face a dangerous Creighton offense that has averaged more than two goals per game this season. Eleven of the Bluejay’s 15 goals this season have been scored in the second half or overtime, so the Hoyas will need to keep their focus and be well conditioned to prevent any late scores. A Georgetown back line anchored by sophomore defender Cole Seiler and freshman defender Joshua Yaro will look to contain sophomore midfielder Timo Pitter and freshman midfielder Fabian Herbers, Creighton’s leading points and goal scorers.
Georgetown junior goalkeeper Tomas Gomez is confident in his defense’s ability.
“I think this year our defense has really stepped up. We have a lot of underclassmen,” Gomez said. “You look at New Mexico, they had seven goals put on Villanova, and they came here and they barely got one in OT. We should have walked away with a tie, but I didn’t have to do much.”
Gomez had to leave the game against Princeton on Sunday with a hand injury he picked up on the Tiger’s second goal, and captain senior goalkeeper Keon Parsa closed out the game. Parsa will be in the net if Gomez is still sidelined with the injury.
When asked about his status for Saturday, he said, “It’s coach’s decision, but I’ll be back in practice [Thursday] and Friday.”
Saturday’s game will have major implications in the Big East and in the national rankings, but like any coach, Wiese is trying not to overemphasize one match.
“It’s just another game in that way. Every game in its own right is a test,” Wiese said. “This will be more of a major midterm.”