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Senior midfielder Stephanie Zare

Coming off its first conference win and a pair of Big East accolades this week – offensive player of the week for junior forward Toni Marie Hudson and Big East Honor Roll for freshman midfielder Samantha Baker – the Georgetown women’s soccer team (6-0-2, 0-1 Big East) again faces a pair of tough matchups this weekend. The Hoyas will face the Seton Hall Pirates (4-3-1, 0-1) this Friday on the road and then will take on the Rutgers Knights (7-1, 2-0) on Sunday at Georgetown.

The Hoyas showed that they have the capabilities of a great team in their play against Big East power Villanova last week, and their play will again be put to the test against Seton Hall. In his second year as head coach, Kazbek Tambi has revamped the women’s soccer program at Seton Hall, improving their scoring and making them a far more competitive team. Hoya Head Coach Dave Nolan, a former Pirate himself, is familiar with Tambi and the Seton Hall program. Nolan said he knows what his team is up against.

“I know it’s going to be a tough place to play,” Nolan said. “They’re an in-your-face team that will get after it.” Nolan also said that the Pirates play a brand of soccer that is somewhat outdated and one that his team is not used to facing. Seton Hall runs a three-five-two formation – where the defense consists of two center backs and a sweeper and the two full backs are promoted to midfield – a formation that isn’t normally seen in college soccer. The unfamiliarity of the Seton Hall formation may cause some difficulties for the Hoyas, but Nolan believes it will also allow for significant offensive opportunities.

“It’s definitely a winnable game,” Nolan said. “But right now we’re ranked 19th in the country and we have a bull’s-eye on our back, so we’re going to get these teams’ best effort.”

After taking on the Pirates on Friday night, the Hoyas will have to make a quick turnaround to gear up for a home contest against Rutgers. While Georgetown is ranked higher than the Scarlet Knights, the game now has a new dimension, as Rutgers also tore apart Villanova last week, beating them 5-0.

“Rutgers will probably be a very, very challenging game,” Nolan said. “They’re a very good team. . They proved that when they dismantled Villanova.” Coached by Glenn Crooks, the Scarlet Knights have made it to the Big East tournament for the past eight years but have yet to win it. But this year they have adopted a new motto: “Championship Vision,” a slogan that seems to suggest that the squad is out to win it all this season.

Rutgers boasts a squad heavy on experience, and they are looking to come out strong after an injury-plagued year last season. But despite the apparent hunger of the team and its strong start so far, Nolan thinks that their playing style may suit his own team’s, unlike the unfamiliar formation that Seton Hall will bring to the table. “The good thing about Rutgers is that they play soccer, and they let you play soccer as well,” he said. “So if your soccer is better than their soccer, you win.”

Nolan also pointed out that Rutgers has a difficult contest against University of Portland on Friday night, a game that could also factor into the Georgetown-Rutgers matchup. Portland is ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, and the Scarlet Knights game against them on Friday may influence how Rutgers fares against the Hoyas. “It’ll be interesting how they get up for [the Portland game], how they deal with that game, and getting up to drive down here and play us on Sunday,” Nolan said. “It’s the nature of our sport, every game is difficult; how do 18- and 19-year-old players respond to each challenge that comes at them, because it’s so fast.”

Asked which contest he thinks will be the tougher of the two this weekend, Nolan said that he thought the Seton Hall game would be a challenge since it will be played on the road, but that Rutgers’ strong talent will also be difficult to play against. “Best-case scenario, we win both,” he said. “Worst case, we lose both. I think I would be very unhappy if we didn’t get one of the two games. It’s going to be a challenging weekend, but I found out after this past weekend . that we are a good team. That was important for us to come through those games and get something, and we did.”

The Hoyas’ bid to keep up their undefeated record for another week begins Friday at 7 p.m. in South Orange, N.J.

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