A group of six seniors moved on from the Georgetown women’s soccer team after the end of the 2011 season, and with them went perhaps the best class in the program’s history. In four years on the Hilltop, they’d amassed an all-time-best 55 wins, including a record regular-season mark of 15 last fall. Needless to say, that success, talent and experience are going to leave a big void to fill.
The Hoyas feature eight incoming freshmen, but this year the slack will mainly be picked up by the squad’s returnees, according to Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan. And given the sophomores and upperclassmen at his disposal, the team doesn’t even look like it will struggle with what would seem to be such troublesome changes.
“Last year, we had a very explosive team,” Nolan said. “We generated offense in so many different ways last year [and with] so many different personalities. This year, actually, we’re probably the opposite. This year I feel we’re going to be a much better defensive team [and] much better in goal. The trick now is to find ways to score goals against good teams.”
Sophomore midfielder Daphne Corboz looks to be the attacking centerpiece of this year’s team, having been given the keys to the offense following the departure of Kelly D’Ambrisi (MSB ’12), Camille Trujillo (COL ’12), Samantha Baker (COL ’12) and first team All-American Ingrid Wells (COL ’12).
Speedy junior Emily Menges, a “big-time” player in Nolan’s words, will marshal the defense atcenterback.
Senior Christina O’Tousa and junior Mary Kroening are also back in the first 11, but after that, the starting lineup for the Blue and Gray will be made up of new faces.
“We’ve got seven players going from auxiliary roles to major roles now, [and] we’ve asked some kids to play in different positions, so technically it’s a new team,” Nolan said.
Not only is it a challenge for the team but also for Nolan, who has had to reconfigure a lineup that had so much success last fall.
“In some ways, [a new lineup] is good to see, because as a coach, you really get to see if you’re any good by the outcome,” Nolan said.
Through two exhibition wins and four regular-season ones, it’s all so far, so good for the Hoyas.
They opened the regular season
with a 2-0 win over George Washington Aug. 17. While the Blue and Gray and Colonials were scoreless at the break, Nolan felt the result was never truly in doubt.
“There’s just a little bit more edge to the real games, and I think that was more of a factor in that game. There was a little bit of nervousness, [too, and] we’re always a big game for GW, so it was always going to be a challenging start,” he said.
A road trip to Delaware resulted in an identical 2-0 win, although Nolan again found some fault with his team’s performance.
This past weekend, the Hoyas traveled to Harrisonburg, Va., for the JMU Invitational. While Georgetown ran their record to 4-0 with two wins on the weekend, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Emma Newins allowed her first goal of the weekend.
But after recording three clean sheets across those four games, no one is complaining about Newins, who missed almost of all last season after sustaining an injury early on.
And while Menges considers her a bit “timid” at this point in net, the defender had extremely high praise for Newins’ ability to facilitate attacks out of the back.
“If I have my back to goal, I feel comfortable playing it back to her, whereas in years past, not so much,” Menges said. “She’s really good with her feet, so having her back there, I feel a lot more comfortable. It makes us less frantic in the back.”
A renewed sense of calm along the backline will greatly aid the offense in building attacks, which should allow the team to compensate for its offensive losses following last season. Graduating a star like Wells was always going to be a difficult obstacle to overcome, but the Hoyas’ improved defense and some key tactical changes — including a shift to a more offensively-minded 4-3-3 — may very well do the trick.
“We definitely lost so many amazing players last year, and it’s very difficult to replace all of them,”Corboz said. “But I think that the group now has a different focus and a different look, and [although] we’re a very young team, we have the same expectations that we did last year. We expect to get back to the Big East semis as we did last year,and hopefully win it this year.”
This team may be vastly changed from 2011, but that doesn’t mean they all haven’t been here before. New faces or not, this season’s Blue and Gray look more than ready to step up.