Women’s Soccer | Hoyas Anticipate Tough Matchup

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Junior forward Grace Damaska has recorded four goals and two assists for a team-leading 10 points so far in the 2015 campaign. Damaska had one goal and one assist in the team’s win over George Washington on Sept. 10.

Junior forward Grace Damaska has recorded four goals and two assists for a team-leading 10 points so far in the 2015 campaign. Damaska had one goal and one assist in the team’s win over George Washington on Sept. 10.

This weekend, the Georgetown women’s soccer team (4-3-0) will look to bounce back after a disappointing 2-1 loss to No. 12 Virginia Tech (8-0-1) when it takes on Central Florida and Stetson.
Despite quality offensive opportunities late in the second half, the Hoyas could not find the back of the net. Meanwhile the Hokies took advantage of a Hoyas’ defensive miscommunication in the 88th minute and scored, preserving their undefeated record.

“We had a really good game and I think that is what we need to remember most of all,” junior forward Grace Damaska said. “Virginia Tech is probably the best team we’ll play all year and the fact that we came out with so much energy and competed with them for the whole 90 minutes speaks for itself.”

Georgetown will travel south for two matchups in the Sunshine State, the first of which will pit the Hoyas against Central Florida (4-2-1). The Knights are coming off a 4-0 loss to No. 3 Florida State (6-1-0). The decision snapped a streak of five games without a loss.

“[UCF is] supposed to be a big, athletic, physical team and that is something we kind of lack, so it will just be us stepping up and matching their energy and bodying into people,” Damaska said.

The Hoyas’ defense will be tasked with slowing down junior forward Carol Rodrigues. Rodrigues was recently named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week after tallying 7 points in two games in a mere 42-hour span. She currently leads the Knights with four goals and two assists. Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, who played for the U.S. Women’s National Team for a decade, will be at the helm for the Knights Friday. Sahaydak earned 110 caps and 60 starts for the Stars and Stripes and won an Olympic gold medal with the squad in 1996 at the age of 19. Most notably, she was a member of the U.S. team that famously won the World Cup in 1999.

“We know the game on Friday night is going to be another challenging game. We set up this nonconference schedule with that in mind,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “We knew we had to go out and win some of these games in the nonconference part of our schedule. We’ve got a chance to still get a result against one those teams and so that’s what the plan is.”

Following the matchup with UCF, the Hoyas will have Saturday to recover and to prepare for Sunday’s contest with Stetson (5-3-1). The Hatters will come into the matchup riding a three-game win streak.

For Georgetown, offensive production will be key. Of the Hatters’ five wins this season, they have held their opponents scoreless three times. In the two wins that were not shutouts, Stetson only allowed one goal.

However, based on the play of his forwards, including Damaska and senior forward Crystal Thomas, so far this season, Nolan has confidence that they will rise to the occasion.

“Crystal and Grace caused Virginia Tech fits on Sunday,” Nolan said. “I’m not sure if Virginia Tech will face too many better attacking duos than those two.”

The Hoyas will need Thomas and Damaska to continue their recent offensive dominance. Thomas, who went the first five games of the season without scoring, has scored in back-to-back games for Georgetown.

“It was a strange start to the season for Crystal. She really is our purest goal scorer in that when she gets a chance you don’t expect her to miss,” Nolan said. “I knew once she got the first one, the rest will follow and I think now as we head on I wouldn’t be shocked if she goes on to score another 10 to 12 goals over the rest of the season.”

Damaska has scored a team-high four goals and also leads the team in points with 10. She and Thomas have combined for six of Georgetown’s 13 goals this season.

“It has been exciting to finally start scoring some goals. I feel like Crystal has started to click. She’s started to put the ball in the net, which is awesome,” Damaska said. “We have been playing together since the spring so it was just going to be a matter of time before we started scoring.”

Securing two victories on the road this weekend would give the Hoyas valuable momentum going into Big East play. After the game against Stetson, Georgetown’s nine remaining regular season contests are all against Big East opponents.

“I’m pretty happy with where the group is and I still feel like we can accomplish all the things we want to accomplish,” Nolan said. “Whether we get a result on Friday or not, I still feel we can do what we set out to do as long as we continue to get better and we can hold ourselves to the same standard of play.”

Kickoff for Friday’s matchup with UCF is set for 5:30 p.m.

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