Beating a Big East opponent on the road is never a simple task, and a seven-hour bus ride to Syracuse, N.Y. doesn’t help matters.

After spliting their first two conference games, the Hoyas head to the Empire State for clashes with foes from the Big East’s American Division. The Blue and Gray’s first stop comes Friday night when Georgetown (7-3-0, 1-1-0 Big East) takes on Syracuse (2-3-3, 1-1-0 Big East), before concluding the road-trip on Sunday with an afternoon matchup at St. John’s (5-3-1, 1-1-0 Big East).

“It’s a tough weekend, there’s no easy way to get to Syracuse,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “Home field advantage seems to be a big thing; we saw that last weekend pretty much everywhere … but if you want to be considered one of the best teams in the conference, you’ve got to go and get results at places like that.”

Boasting identical conference records, the Hoyas, Orange and Red Storm are desperate to pick up points and assert themselves during the early stages of a cut-throat conference schedule. After their 4-1 home demolition of Rutgers last Sunday, the Blue and Gray look to translate their momentum into more positive results.

“The most important thing for us is to get a quick start — when we come out and set the tone early, that’s when we’re at our best,” Nolan said. “When we’re playing catch-up, or when we’re responding to the momentum of the other team, I don’t think we’re as good.

We started very bravely and very quickly against Rutgers, and I think that makes a big difference for us.”

Interestingly enough, Syracuse and Georgetown will square off against each other with extremely similar formations. Both employ a single striker as a target player, who is situated slightly above attacking players who push up from midfield. However, the Orange are known for their aggressive play, which puts more pressure on opposing players but also can leave the Syracuse defense exposed on occasion.

“[We’re] almost going to be a mirror image of each other, but they’re a little bit more aggressive defensively. They step their defensive line a little bit higher, and they leave a lot of space behind,” Nolan said. “With that in mind, you need to move the ball faster, because they’re risking things by pressuring you a lot higher. But if you can move the ball faster, there’s space to play in, mostly behind them.”

Senior forward Camille Trujillo’s pace and work rate were essential to defeating the Scarlet Knights, and the Hoyas will count on her to continue wreaking havoc this weekend. Senior forward Sam Baker returns to the pitch after earning a place on last week’s Big East honor roll. Baker scored twice and had two assists in last weekend’s fixtures.

On Saturday, the Blue and Gray will make the five-hour journey south to Queens, N.Y., where they will try to avenge their most recent loss to St John’s – a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat with mere seconds remaining in double overtime of their 2009 Big East tournament quarterfinal matchup. Payback won’t be easy, however, because of the Red Storm’s tricky playing surface.

“The field is a difficult field to play on. It’s an artificial field, and it’s always windy,” Nolan said. “They have to play on it, too, but they’re a little more used to it.”

St. John’s, like Syracuse, utilizes the same 4-5-1 formation as Georgetown. But rather than attempting to pressure Georgetown passers and interrupt the Hoyas’ natural rhythm of play, the Red Storm are expected to play more fluidly than their counterparts in upstate New York.

“[St. John’s] will play soccer, they will let you play soccer and whoever is the best soccer team will win the game. I fancy our chances if that’s how the game shapes up,” Nolan said. “Syracuse is a little bit different. They may try to stop us from playing soccer. Then it’s just a matter of: Can they stop us?”

Georgetown is 5-5-1 all-time against St. John’s with all five wins coming in the last six matchups and 5-4-1 in prior contests with Syracuse, having won the past two meetings.

The Blue and Gray will kick-off at 7 p.m. on Friday against the Orange in Syracuse, N.Y. Sunday’s start is set for 1 p.m. as the Hoyas take on the Red Storm in Queens, N.Y.

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