FILE PHOTO: cHRIS bIEN/THE HOYA Freshman defender Drew Topher has started 2 games this season.
Freshman defender Drew Topor has started 2 games this season.

The currently unranked Georgetown women’s soccer team (4-2-2) has played an impressive first half of its season, with the exception of the one weekend in Blacksburg, Va., when it picked up both of its losses.

The team, which had been ranked as high as No. 13 for one week and No. 20 for a few more, has one more nonconference game against Duquesne (2-2-2) on Sunday before opening Big East play next Thursday at DePaul (8-0-1) in Chicago.

The Hoyas have spent this week practicing hard and preparing for the final 10 games on their regular-season schedule, as well as reflecting on their first eight games, including a very strong performance in a tie with No. 22 West Virginia (5-2-1), and the lowlight of losing 6-1 to No. 5 Virginia Tech (9-0-0) and 2-0 to Wake Forest (2-4-1) in the span of three days.

Faced with large roster turnover coming into this year’s campaign, one of the team’s few constants has been senior goalkeeper Emma Newins, who has already accrued two Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“The good thing is that we had an experienced goalkeeper coming back, which we knew, in Emma,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “Emma’s usually never anybody I have to worry about. She’s a hard-hat, lunchbox type of girl, comes to work every day, and she’s a seven out of 10 every day, practice or games. When she’s on form, she’s a 10 out of 10, which she was on Friday night against West Virginia.”

Another constant for Georgetown women’s soccer has been the coach; Nolan has been a part of the coaching staff for nearly 16 seasons and has held the head coaching job for almost 11 of those years.

Nolan exhibited his typical wit without hesitation when asked about his own coaching performance thus far.

“Exceptional,” Nolan said with a grin, before turning serious. “That’s a … tough question. We’re (4-2-2) going into this weekend, [and] we had just two home games in eight. We [also] had a run of games where we played three exceptional teams, in Wake [Forest], [Virginia] Tech, and West Virginia, none of them at home. And we had a challenging weekend out west. So if I was to give [myself] a grade, I would say a B to B-plus. … coaches get too much credit when we win, and we get too much blame when we lose. And that’s a part of the job. We’re just trying to get better every day, players and coaches together.”

One challenge Nolan identified at the beginning of the season was that many of last year’s seniors started in defense and have now left due to graduation, leaving previously attacking players to learn defensive positions.

“Defensively, we’re still getting accustomed to playing with each other, playof injuries last weekend. So defensively, we’re just looking to get better every day. I think we made some strides; I think we learned from the intensity of the Virginia Tech game, because we were much better able to handle the pressure that West Virginia put on us, because of the learning curve that we picked up down in Blacksburg.”
Newins said that because of squad depth, the injuries haven’t overly affected their defensive strategy.

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Freshman Rachel Corboz has a goal and an assist in eight games played this season. She has started six of those eight games.
Freshman Rachel Corboz has a goal and an assist in eight games played this season. She has started six of those eight games.

“What’s good about our team is we have a lot of depth, and we’re pretty confident in whoever steps on the field,” Newins said. “And everyone works hard in practice and has got a lot of experience, so I’m not too nervous when someone new steps on. I just try to communicate as much as I can to make sure they know what they’re doing and they feel confident in themselves as well.”

Nolan also praised the stability of freshman defenders Drew Topor and Liz Wenger, as well as the skill of attacking midfielder Rachel Corboz.
But despite the plethora of attacking options the Hoyas boast and the early goal-scoring proficiency of senior forward Vanessa Skrumbis and two-time All-American senior midfielder Daphne Corboz, the goals have stopped flowing as of late, with just three Hoya goals in the past four matches.

“I think that what we need to work on as a team is we need to be more consistent and get the performances that we have against San Diego and West Virginia, for us to replicate those efforts in all games and also in practice,” Corboz said.
The Hoyas will begin their effort to reclaim a spot in the Top 25 when they face the Duquesne Dukes at Shaw Field on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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