FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Junior Forward Sarah Adams
FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
Junior Forward Sarah Adams

Home-field advantage has been crucial to the recent success of the Georgetown women’s soccer team. After going unbeaten at home in 2013 with a 10-0-2 record, the Hoyas will expect equally raucous crowds to greet them at Shaw Field this year. Currently sporting a 3-0-1 record after a tough four-game non-conference slate of matches, the 13th-ranked Hoyas face high expectations following last year’s impressive 16-win campaign.

Only Marquette is predicted to challenge the Blue and Gray for the Big East title. The Golden Eagles hold a 28-game conference win streak that will be difficult to break. However, behind an explosive offense that has allowed the Hoyas to outscore their opponents by a 14-to-one margin over the opening four games, Georgetown hopes to unseat the Milwaukee school at the top of the conference.

One obstacle to acheiving a conference championship is the high rate of turnover on defense, as four senior starters left the Hilltop after graduation. Despite these challenges, the Hoya defense has effectively been retooled by converting  senior Jessie Clinton and juniors Sarah Adams, Marina Paul and Neela Mohan into defenders from their traditional attacking positions. Upperclassmen experience has made up for any positional unfamiliarity as the back four,  in tandem with senior goalkeeper Emma Newins, have recorded three straight shutouts. The week culminated with Newins  being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week.

CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Senior Striker Vanessa Skrumbis
CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
Senior Striker Vanessa Skrumbis

Not only does the team sport a formidable  defense, it also features a  dangerous offense. Senior midfielder Daphne Corboz, daughter of former French professional player Michel Corboz, is in the running for the 2014 MAC Hermann Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top male and female soccer athletes in NCAA Division I play.

Head Coach Dave Nolan thinks that Corboz has a good chance to win the award in her final season.

“[Daphne is] one of the top attacking players in the nation,” Nolan said. [She has a] skillset that’s rarely found in American players,  and she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.”

Having scored 7 goals and recorded 13 assists despite missing nearly a fourth of last season due to injury, Corboz is the centerpiece of a dynamic offensive group which finished  third nationally in scoring last season. Flanking her is senior striker Vanessa Skrumbis, who has already recorded six goals and one assist in just four games. After earning the honor of being named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week this past week, Skrumbis seems to be well on her way to at least doubling her total of eight goals in the 2013 season.

After opening the season against non-elite opposition, the Hoyas will be tested with a daunting road trip to face the fifth-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg, Va. Coming into Friday night’s game, the Blue and Gray faced  the University of San Diego, Long Beach State, Towson and North Carolina State. . Long Beach State held the Hoyas to a tied shutout, and moved up to 23rd in the nation as a result.

The Virginia Tech game will require a higher quality of performance from Georgetown, as the Hokies have opened their season with four easy victories over unranked foes.

Looking further down the schedule, No. 21 West Virginia is the only other ranked opponent on the Hoyas’ slate. This relatively favorable schedule does not mean that a conference championship will come easily.

“The path to a Big East championship goes through Marquette,” Nolan said.

Another Big East challenger and NCAA tournament team, DePaul, has no non-conference games against ranked teams. When the Hoyas face them in conference play, they will hope to take revenge for their late-season 1-0 loss to the Blue Demons. With veteran leadership at both ends of the field, the Hoyas look poised to improve on last year’s record-tying mark of 16 wins.

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