Experience is a coveted attribute in college sports. In a world where athletes play for, at most, four years and injuries are all too common, a truly experienced team is hard to come by. Yet there is no other way to describe the 2013 Georgetown women’s soccer team. From the nine returning starters from a team that won the most games in program history last year to Head Coach Dave Nolan, now in his 10th season, this year’s version of the Hoyas is a group of grizzled veterans.

Of course, experience without talent is pointless, but this year’s squad has plenty of that, too. Throw a dart at the roster – odds are you will hit an all-Big East selection.

For the Hoyas, it starts in the net with redshirt sophomore goalie Emma Newins. The Virginia native recorded a school record 13 shutouts in 23 starts last year, allowing just 0.70 goals per game. It was a satisfying comeback campaign for Newins, who missed her entire first season on the Hilltop due to injury. It was also a season that turned heads, as the sophomore was selected 2013 Big East preseason goalkeeper of the year.

“Emma is a very solid goalkeeper,” Nolan said. “She doesn’t give away anything cheaply.”

Protecting Newins is a defensive foursome of seniors Colleen Dinn, Alexa St. Martin, Emily Mengesand Mary Kroening, who have started over 200 games in their collective collegiate careers.

“They’re just so used to each other and each other’s tendencies,” Nolan said.

Each player in the unit brings something to the equation. Menges has been named Big East Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and selected as a finalist for the 2013 MAC Hermann Trophy, the highest individual award in college soccer. She will partner this season with St. Martin in the middle of the defense as what Nolan calls “the two best center backs in the conference.”

Kroening and Dinn will hold down the defensive flanks. Standing tall, just shy of six feet, Kroening will play a critical role for the Hoyas’ defense in her fourth year as a starter. For Dinn, the new season means a new position, as the preseason all-Big East selection transitions to the back four from her role as a forward last season, when she finished third on the team in scoring.

“We had a void at left back, and I like to have [Colleen’s] experience and ability to attack out of the back,” Nolan said. “She’s selfless; she’s all about the team.”

The back third of the pitch has been the most consistent part of Georgetown’s starting 11 this season, as the front two-thirds have been plagued by a rash of injuries. Returning midfield starters junior Daphne Corboz and sophomore Marina Paul have yet to see any game action; graduate student Kaitlin Bast also has been unable to suit up.

“We’re hoping to get them all back on the field sooner rather than later,” Nolan said.

When Corboz is able to return, it will provide an immense boost for the Hoyas. Corboz led the team in scoring last year, netting 18 goals and 8 assists. She was named preseason Big East offensive player of the year and is considered by some to be one of the best attacking players in the country.

“When Daphne is out injured, it takes away from our offense,” Nolan said. “I don’t know if there’s a team in the country that could lose a player of her quality and still perform at the same level.”

Corboz’ absence has yet to affect Georgetown in the table however. The Hoyas, who are currently ranked No. 13 in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, sit at 4-0-0 with wins over William & Mary, Quinnipiac, George Washington and Virginia Commonwealth.

Junior forward Audra Ayotte has stepped up nicely to the challenge of replacing Corboz. Through the first four games, Ayotte has already surpassed her scoring stats from last year, netting three goals and adding three assists. The junior’s contributions were especially useful in the Hoyas’ 3-2 win over George Washington, where she pitched in both a goal and an assist as Georgetown rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit.

The Hoyas have won their three home games by a combined score of 11-1 and Sunday’s 4-0 win over VCU marked Georgetowms 14th-straight victory at Shaw Field, a streak that dates back to October 2011.

With so much returning talent, expectations are sky high for the Hoyas this year. Despite sweeping the individual preseason Big East awards, Georgetown was picked to finish second in the conference behind Marquette.

Knocking off the Golden Eagles would be extra sweet for this year’s squad. The two teams met in last year’s Big East championship in a game that Marquette won 1-0,  the lone goal coming with under three minutes to play in regulation.

Nolan, however, is confident that his team can get the better of Marquette this year and take the next step.

“I think we can beat everybody.”

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