Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Forward Quartet Does Its Best Work in Pairs

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(Clockwise from top left) Sophomore Jose Colchao, senior Peter Grasso, freshman Uche Onyeador and sophomore Chandler Diggs make up the forward quartet at the helm of the Hoya attack.

Head Coach Brian Wiese looks to his bench. “Diggsy, Ooch, check in,” he says.

The moment the ball is put out of play, the horn blows, and the referee calls for a substitution. Sophomore forward Chandler Diggs and freshman forward Uche Onyeador run onto the field, slapping the hands of senior forward Peter Grasso and sophomore forward Jose Colchao as the latter pair runs out to the sideline. The whistle blows, and play begins again.

This scenario has been the norm for the season so far – Wiese has started Grasso and Colchao together in almost all the games played by the Blue and Gray, and at a strategic point in play, has replaced them with the combination of Diggs and Onyeador up front.

The season is still young, but the chemistry is already apparent. Both pairs have distinct styles of play, complementing each other’s individual strengths on the pitch.

The two starters create vital space between the opposition’s midfield and defense; for a big man, Grasso makes surprisingly quick turns on the ball, which, coupled with his strength while holding off center backs bigger than him, are a huge threat to the defense. And when Colchao is chasing down every loose pass from halfway down the pitch, defenders can’t push the backline up the field without risking being outrun by the speedy 5-foot-9 sophomore.

“It’s kind of like brawn and finesse combined,” Colchao says of his offensive partnership with Grasso. “I think it’s like trying to incorporate two important aspects of the game. Maybe two strong guys may not be able to get the holes or quicker spots and vice versa; you might not be able to hold it if both guys are just quick.”

And when the coach decides that the play has opened up and his starters need a rest, on come Diggs and Onyeador and their fresh pairs of legs, prowling menacingly at the helm of the Hoya attack, ready to pounce when the chance comes.

Roughly built along the same lines, the two forwards share many of the same qualities – their relatively leaner builds enable them to utilize gaps and put on bursts of pace on the field, but at the same time they have enough meat on their bones to be able to hold off aggressive defenders with the ball still at their feet. They both do, however, have different styles of play that create a complementing partnership at the top of the box.

“Chandler likes to check in more, and I like to run behind the defense,” Onyeador says. “I think we connect pretty well on the field when we come in, and we’re starting to look for each other more, so it’s starting to work out.”

“I see the chemistry between all four of those guys,” Wiese says. “The chemistry is starting to settle in a little bit. I see them getting more comfortable playing with each other and that just takes time. You have to be patient with that a little bit, but I think it’s starting to come.”

So how did the four forwards get split into pairs?

“It kind of just happened,” Diggs says. “It worked out well, and we’re starting to play well together. Our record shows it.”

The record does, indeed, speak for itself: The Hoyas have scored 15 goals in just eight games – that’s already a goal over last season’s total – and almost half of them have come off the cleats (and heads) of Wiese’s attacking quartet. Grasso’s top-scoring tally of three goals is closely followed by Diggs’ two. Colchao and Onyeador both have one goal to their name. Although in terms of goals, Grasso and Colchao have an advantage over the other pair, Diggs and Onyeador have grabbed an assist each to equalize the eight points notched up by the starting pair.

Thus, it is no surprise that Wiese has decided to play all four forwards in a game rather than give preference to a pair. “Some days, Peter and Jose are looking like world-beaters, and some days, Chandler and Uche are looking like world-beaters, and sometimes, all four of them are,” the coach says. “It’s a good problem to have.”

But the chemistry is not just limited within the pairs – the four forwards maintain their camaraderie even when two of them are on the bench. Grasso says there is not much rivalry between the pairs. “Once they come on, we slap their hands and cheer them on the bench just like they do when we’re out there,” he says.

Camaraderie will play a key role this weekend for the Hoyas. Georgetown will travel to Rutgers for a nighttime matchup under expected rainy conditions today, and the rain will likely follow into Sunday when the Hoyas take on Big East foe Villanova.

“It’s going to be tough and kind of wet, so we’re going to have to slow the game down,” Diggs said. “We have to keep the ball a little bit more and limit the mistakes.”

Diggs, Onyeador, Grasso and Colchao will all have to bring their A-game to the pitch and look to score some quality goals. When asked what his dream goal would be, Diggs joked, “If I rainbow, like, four guys in a row, and ‘meg the other six, and ‘meg the keeper and flick it to myself and bike it into the goal – that’s my dream goal.”

The Hoyas will take on the Scarlet Knights on Friday at 8 p.m., while the starting whistle will blow at 3 p.m. against the Wildcats on Sunday.

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