As the No. 3 Hoyas make final preparations for their season opener tomorrow against James Madison, Head Coach Ricky Fried won’t have to worry about talent or ponder whether his squad has enough able-bodied attackers or a confident enough goalie. Instead, his first order of business will be getting his team to gel as a unit. While in the fall the practices were less intense and roles were more fluid, the spring has delivered more continuity. Now, the starting attackers are practicing as a unit and the starting defenders and midfielders are playing alongside one another. Players once unfamiliar with each other are starting to learn each other’s habits. “I think the one thing that just really made us come together and start playing well is that we really became a team more,” senior attacker Schuyler Sutton said. “We’re just starting to click.” To Fried, the different between fall and spring is clear. “In the fall we run a lot of people in so you’re not used to running with each other,” he said. “You don’t get tendencies; there is not a cohesive flow with each other. Once we’re midway through the preseason, we get the same people running with the same people and you start to understand tendencies, the communication is a little bit better, and we are all on the same page a little bit more.” Helping to foster Georgetown’s newfound comity was a chance last weekend to scrimmage the English national team on Friday and George Mason, No. 17 Boston University and No. 20 Pennsylvania on Sunday. “I thought we came out pretty hard,” senior goalie Maggie Koch said. “We worked on a lot of things. Things that we really wanted to work on I think we really pulled through on.” For Sutton, the boons of the scrimmage were not just physical. “Mentally, for our own team, to be going against someone else and not beating on each other for another day, it’s a nice change,” she said. Now, with several months of practice and some real game-speed experience under its belt, Georgetown has the familiarity it will need to be successful. “The fall was a little awkward,” Sutton said. “There were only a few people in. Brittany [Baschuk] wasn’t really playing [because of an injury], so just this preseason, all of a sudden, it really came together. It just clicked and we find each other. There’s a higher level of experience. People are more comfortable now.” To Fried, the emphasis on team play has been evident since last season. “It started last year,” he said. “There’s a certain culture on the team that everyone understands that everybody is important and plays a certain role. I think they are starting to believe that and that goes a long way to the chemistry.” Now, on the eve of its opener, Georgetown’s focus is fittingly not on the Dukes, but the Hoyas. “It’s really more about us and as long as we play with each other, then I think we’re fine,” Sutton said. Fried gave a glimpse of what he expects to see from a JMU team that upset the Hoyas 7-6 in overtime last April 26. “They are very athletic, they are very feisty, they are going to go after you 100 percent the whole time, no matter what the situation of the game is,” he said. “Recognition is going to be key for us in the game and then just relaxing and playing our game.” With two preseason members of the Tewaarton Trophy watch list in Koch and senior attacker Stanwick, to go along Sutton, Baschuk and with six other seniors, when the Hoyas (14-4 last season) do play their game, they should indeed be one of the country’s most difficult teams to defeat. “As long as we’re confident,” Koch said, “I don’t think anyone can beat us.” Tomorrow’s opening draw is set for noon at the Multi-Sport Facility.

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