CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Senior defender Jimmy Nealis is the anchor of Georgetown’s defense.
Senior defender Jimmy Nealis is the anchor of Georgetown’s defense.

After playing — and winning — four games either on campus or just around the bend, the No. 13 Georgetown men’s soccer team (4-0) hits the road Thursday afternoon to take on nonconference foes Illinois-Chicago and Wisconsin.

Both the Flames and the Badgers have played three road games to kick off the year, the polar opposite of theHoyas’ D.C.-heavy opening slate.

Georgetown Head Coach Brian Wiese noted that the two games will provide an interesting challenge for his squad — but one that his players will be up for.

“You have to manage [things] now. Classes are in session. We’re missing some class. You have to manage homework, you have to manage travel, you have to manage it [all],” Wiese said. “It’s just a different feel when you’re on the road, but the group’s experienced enough that it’s going to be nothing new to them.”

Not all of the Hoyas are experienced in the usual sense, of course: The team featured three freshmen in its starting 11 against Penn State last Sunday.

Forward Brandon Allen has emerged as the most recognizable rookie in the group, having tallied the game-winner in the Hoyas’ last three games. Midfielder Keegan Rosenberry has been stellar filling in at right back, and midfielder Cole Seiler has likewise performed well, substituting for injured captain Tommy Muller, a senior defender.

Those three — along with fellow freshman Melvin Snoh, who has come off the bench — have all been forced to grow up quickly after being thrown into tough situations early on. Still, Wiese attributed a large part of the freshmen’s growth to the upperclassmen.

“The young guys are doing a great job of playing ‘follow the leader’ with the older guys,” he said.

And as the younger players continue to follow the veterans, the Blue and Gray will look to follow their four wins to date with two more on this weekend’s trip.

Illinois-Chicago (1-2), first up on Friday, boasts a win at Ohio State and a narrow loss at Marquette as the most recent entries on their resume. The Marquette game took place last Friday, however, meaning that the Flames will have had plenty of time to rest and prepare for their matchup with theHoyas.

“They’ve got some very good attacking players, and [since] it’s their first home game, that generates a little bit of excitement from their point of view, so you have to deal with that,” Wiese said. “If we can find a way to get a result on the road against this team, we’ll be really happy at the end of the day Friday, so it’s going to be different from any of the other games we’ve played.”

As with last weekend, Georgetown won’t have much of a break before resuming play on Sunday. This time, though, the Hoyas will have to deal with the added complication of traveling during that short period.

Upon arriving in Wisconsin, they’ll face a Badgers team with a record as unimpressive as that ofUIC, but one that fell only 1-0 to tough Louisville in a preseason exhibition.

“Our schedule has worked out so that there’s not one game where you’re saying, ‘Wow, this game is going to be a cupcake,’” Wiese said. “But the guys are in a good spot, and we just have to make sure that we come ready to play, because we’re playing two teams that can punish us if we don’t perform.”

Still, the faith that the Georgetown coach has in his team is clear.

“I think the guys are confident. They’re sharp, and I don’t think — to their credit — they’ve gotten a big head about anything. I don’t think they’re letting rankings or all the talk about how [well] they’ve been playing affect them,” Wiese said. “They’re training hard and they’re working hard, and I think they’re a well-rounded group at this stage.”

The Hoyas’ weekend tests come one time zone over, with the first match against Illinois-Chicago set to start Friday at 7 p.m. CDT. Wisconsin awaits less than 48 hours later; the opening kickoff is scheduled for noon Sunday.

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