Georgetown, UVA set for ACC Big East Challenge at Md. SoccerPlex
By Quinn Casteel
The wait for NCAA regular-season soccer will finally come to an end for the Georgetown Hoyas and Virginia Cavaliers on Friday night, when the teams square off in the ACC/BIG EAST Challenge at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md. at 7:30 p.m.
The game will be both teams’ first official match of the fall season, and will be the first meeting between the sides since they met in the Round of 16 in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, a match UVa won 5-1.
“Tomorrow night is going to be a great opportunity for us,” Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese told Soccer Wire this week. “UVa has one of the most talented rosters in the country, and this was put on our schedule to test us and get us ready for the BIG EAST.”
“If everything isn’t right, you’re going to be punished by a team like UVa so it will be a great opportunity to see where we are and what need to work on moving forward,” he continued.
Both UVa and Georgetown are poised for big seasons. Now in his 17th year at the helm in Charlottesville, Cavaliers head coach George Gelnovatch brings in seven ESPNU Top 100 recruits, all expected to make immediate impacts, and Wiese returns nine starters, including a MAC Hermann Trophy candidate in junior forward Steve Neumann.
Georgetown won both of its exhibition matches prior to Friday’s regular season opener, defeating Old Dominion 3-1 on August 14 and topping Villanova 3-0 on August 18. Of the Hoyas’ five preseason goals, the sixth being an own goal by Villanova, all were scored by different players, which Wiese said he sees as a sign of a well-disciplined team.
“Both Old Dominion and Villanova were very good opponents for us,” said Wiese. “One of the strengths of our team is that we’re able to work hard to get chances for the whole 90 minutes and I think that shows a lot of discipline. We have a group that has some pretty capable goalscorers, so hopefully that’s a trend.”
While Georgetown returns 17 of its players from last fall, Gelnovatch and the rest of his coaching staff do not have quite the same luxury of familiarity. Virginia is returning only two seniors and will be one of the youngest teams in the ACC, but is still receiving preseason top 25 votes in the coach’s poll because of their second-ranked recruiting class. A few of the Cavaliers’ top players this season are senior Will Bates, the team’s leading goal scorer from a year ago (14 goals), as well as highly touted recruits Brian James and Scott Thomsen. James led the country in assists three times while in high school, and Thomsen was an ESPNHS First-Team All American as a senior. Anchoring the UVa back line will be junior Sean Murnane, the only presumed starter of the class of 2014.
Widely considered two of the premier men’s soccer conferences in the NCAA, it is quite appropriate that the ACC and BIG EAST would face each other in tournaments such as these, given the long history of national championships between the leagues, as well as competition both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
“Because of proximity, there are a lot of players that we’ve recruited that have gone to Maryland or Virginia, so there’s always some sense of rivalry. But we have a lot of respect for both of those programs,” said Wiese. “Virginia is a model program and I think there’s a lot of mutual respect between us and the ACC.”
Tickets for Friday night’s match between UVa and Georgetown can be found at http://www.mdsoccerplex.org/.