MEN'S SOCCER | No. 9 GU Starts Big East Play
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 01:09
The No. 9 Georgetown men’s soccer team (7-0-1) is undefeated, boasts a top-10 ranking and has plenty of talent to boot. What the Hoyas don’t yet have is a Big East win, but they’ll look to pick that up on Saturday when they play host to Rutgers (3-2) to open their conference schedule.
“We’re very pleased with where we are, but now the whole thing kind of shifts into a different element with the Big East starting,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said after his team’s two-goal victory over Penn on Sunday. “Now, you’re dealing with points and the pressures of that, and so the [question] for us is, can we relax and still play with more at stake?”
The Blue and Gray came into this season unranked, but their current standing serves as a testament to the quality they’ve shown on the pitch through their first eight games. And while the poll’s voters might not have seen this kind of run coming, senior midfielder and co-captain Ian Christianson isn’t surprised.
“I definitely had that [goal] for this team, [but] I don’t know if we necessarily expected it,” he said. “We just want to win every game we can and keep progressing throughout the season and not let the level [of intensity] drop.”
And while they are pleased with their position thus far, the Hoyas also know that it can quickly be turned into a vulnerability.
“It’s pretty cool, but now we’ve just got a bigger target on our backs,” Christianson said.
The Scarlet Knights will be the first Big East team to take aim at that target this year, and they will challenge for Georgetown on both ends of the field.
Offensively, Rutgers is led by freshman midfielder Mael Corboz, the younger brother of women’s soccer standout Daphne Corboz. Mael Corboz, whom Wiese likewise tried to bring to the Hilltop, scored twice at Princeton on Sept. 8 en route to being named Big East rookie of the week.
Corboz’s playmaking abilities propelled the Scarlet Knights to a 2-0 win in that outing against the Tigers, besting the Hoyas’ 1-0 win in the same arena last Friday. Rutgers has played only one more game since then, though, since the team has played only five games thus far.
“They’ve scheduled really lightly. It’ll be interesting to see if that has an impact on things,” Wiese said. “They’ll either be fresher — [and] there is merit to that — or they’re maybe having a hard time getting into a game routine.”
But while there are a number of unknowns to this Scarlet Knight squad, the threat they pose is, in Wiese’s eyes, a sure thing. He noted that Rutgers is sound defensively and has talent up front.
“It’s going to be a game where we expect it to be hard to break them down and create some chances,” Wiese said. “And we have to be good [at] handling their transition. They’ve got some guys that are pretty talented on the ball.”
Christianson was similarly wary of Saturday’s visitors.
“I think it’s probably going to be our toughest game yet,” he said. “Big East opponents are always big, and getting three points right off the bat is something that, obviously, we [both] want to do. I expect it to be the highest-level game yet, so we’re going to have to definitely be up for it.”
Other than the pair of games they dropped at the Ameritas Classic in Omaha, after all, Rutgers is undefeated. Still, from the overtime opener against Virginia to Sunday’s 3-1 win over Penn — led by senior forward Andy Riemer — the Blue and Gray have been well prepared.
And with Wiese opting to go with a more sub-laden lineup against the Quakers — a trend that he indicated is likely to continue — tired legs shouldn’t end up being the issue some might expect.
“It’s just a Big East game,” Wiese said of Saturday’s 1 p.m. matchup. “There’s talent and there’s athleticism, and both teams are fighting for three points, so there’s going to be a little extra bite to it, maybe. It’s that time of year.”