In the middle of a Big East swing, No. 20 Georgetown (8-2-3, 3-1-0 Big East) returns to the Hilltop tomorrow to take on one of the best teams in the nation, No. 12 Notre Dame (5-3-4, 1-2-1 Big East). The Hoyas are coming off a 3-1 victory on Wednesday over Seton Hall, which in turn came on the heels of a heartbreaking 1-0 road loss to West Virginia last weekend. The win over the Pirates was crucial for the Hoyas’ confidence and should give them momentum going forward.
“If you lose that game, you start questioning things. A kernel of doubt creeps in,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “We just said that the West Virginia game ended a 10-game unbeaten streak and now we can start another one.”
The goal conceded against Seton Hall marks the third straight game in which the Blue and Gray have failed to keep a clean sheet. This could be worrisome for Wiese, whose team had gone four games without conceding before its Oct. 4 win over American, but the coach isn’t concerned with his defense.
“That is [the] nature of the game. I don’t have any real worries from the defensive point of view,” he said. “The back four was really good last night.”
The Hoyas are somewhat fortunate in that tomorrow’s opponents have been struggling for several weeks. The Fighting Irish have not won a game since defeating No. 3 Louisville on Sept. 24. They are 0-2-2 over the past few weeks and are coming off a 1-0 loss to Marquette on Wednesday. .
“I think they are a wounded tiger,” Wiese said. “I wasn’t really happy that they lost to Marquette, because they are going to be coming in here with a lot more focus. I think we will get their best punch.”
Prior to the Golden Eagles, the Fighting Irish had earned an impressive draw against No. 1 Connecticut. The Fighting Irish’s other loss during this winless streak came against another tough Big East team, No. 15 St. John’s.
“The teams they play aren’t patty cake teams,” Wiese said. “They play teams that are going to make it so that they don’t score four goals a game.”
Even with these teams’ recent propensity to concede goals, tomorrow’s game features a match-up of two quality defenses and goalkeepers. Georgetown freshman goalkeeper Tomas Gomez has an impressive .508 goals against average and a .875 save percentage, good for eighth in the nation in both categories. Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Will Walsh has been almost as good, posting a .818 save percentage and an .815 goals against average.
On the other end of the pitch, the Fighting Irish’s potent attack is spearheaded by junior forward Ryan Finley, who leads the team with four goals. The junior, who transferred to Notre Dame from Duke, led the nation in goals per game last year and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference offensive player of the Year in 2010.
“They are a team [that] doesn’t have a lot of obvious weaknesses,” Wiese said. “They are really organized and athletic.”
Saturday’s game will also be a special one for Wiese, who coached and played for Notre Dame for 10 years.
“My mentor as a coach is [Notre Dame Head Coach] Bobby Clark,” Wiese said. “I [also] have a close connection with the staff … They are close friends of mine.”
As much as he likes his alma mater, Wiese still badly wants to beat them for the first time in his coaching career.
“It’s a game that I have a little bit of a thing where I haven’t beaten them yet,” Wiese said. “I have tied them, but this is the one I would like to get. Put that one to bed.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at North Kehoe Field tomorrow.