THE RUNDOWN: Sports Stories for September 4

Men’s Soccer

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA

Only a special pair of opponents could overshadow the Georgetown men’s soccer team’s upcoming Dad Bod Day promotion. Akron University (1-1) and No. 1 University of California, Los Angeles (1-0) comprise such a pair.

The Hoyas (0-1-1) will take on the Zips Friday and the Bruins Monday, both at home. Both opponents have had recent success — Akron won the national championship in 2010, while UCLA lost in the title game last season — and have produced dozens of professional players. This weekend certainly presents a difficult challenge for No. 12 Georgetown.

 

IPPOLITO: The Water Cooler

With the suspension saga of Tom Brady nearly behind it, the NFL has officially devolved into a yearlong drama worthy of a Shakespeare play. As mind-numbing as that sideshow was, it almost pales in comparison to the latest actors to take center stage: D.C’s own head coach Jay Gruden and owner Daniel Snyder. To paraphrase Shakespeare’s “Richard III”: “A quarterback! A quarterback! Our kingdom for a quarterback!”

Three years ago, Snyder gave the St. Louis Rams a king’s ransom for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Baylor who was heralded as franchise player and a sure success. Snyder gave up three first-round picks to St. Louis for a quarterback who, as of this week, finds himself an injured, mistreated benchwarmer behind former backup Kirk Cousins. While Griffin’s performance has been a near 180 from his stellar rookie season in 2012 when he led Washington to the playoffs, he is not wholly responsible for his downfall. Snyder and Gruden — two beacons of incompetence whose approval ratings are almost guaranteed to be lower than those of Congress — also share some of the blame.

 

Football

Nolan 9.4Coming off of a disappointing 2014 season in which the Georgetown football team went 3-9, senior quarterback Kyle Nolan and the Hoyas have a lot to improve upon if they are to achieve their goal of finally winning a Patriot League conference title.

A considerable amount of the team’s success will depend on the offense, led by Nolan. Last year, Georgetown’s offense was outscored by opponents with a cumulative score of 248 to 149, and Nolan himself completed only 51.3 percent of his pass attempts to go along with just nine touchdown passes.

The senior quarterback from Branford, Conn. knows a lot is expected of him this season, and he is confident in his ability to lead this team to a Patriot League title.

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Syracuse, Maryland, UConn Highlight Non-Conference Schedule

A fragmented image became whole on Monday – sort of. The Georgetown men’s basketball team released its 13-game non-conference schedule, confirming the dates of several high-profile contests that had been known for months and revealing the identities of several lesser-known opponents. The order in which the Hoyas will complete the double round robin of Big East regular season play, however, remains a mystery.

The release reinforced what has become clear over the last several months as bits and pieces of Georgetown’s schedule trickled out: the Hoyas will play one of their most challenging non-conference slate of games in recent memory this season. After opening the season at Verizon Center on November 14 against Radford, Georgetown will travel to College Park, Md., to take on Maryland in its second contest of the year. The Terps will be one of the top-ranked teams in the country to open the season and Xfinity Center should be rocking for the first regular season meeting between the two local schools since 2008.

The Hoyas will have little time to recover before heading to New York City for the second weekend of the regular season, where they will participate in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. The four-team tournament will see Georgetown face off against last year’s national runner-up Wisconsin on Friday before taking on either reigning national champion Duke or Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday.

It is an astoundingly difficult four-game sequence to open the season. The Hoyas could play fairly well and still start out 1-3, or notch a couple of headline grabbing victories and launch themselves into the top-10 of national polls.

Games against Bryant and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in the last week of November and the first week of December provide a much-needed respite before what likely will be Georgetown’s most anticipated game of the season: the renewal of its rivalry against Syracuse when the Orange travel to Verizon Center on Saturday, December 5.

Many are predicting a down year for Syracuse as the Orange deal with a reduced scholarship total after an NCAA investigation into widespread wrongdoing in the program, but the first game between the two schools since Syracuse departed the Big East in 2013 promises to be a gem.

Four home games against Brown, North Carolina-Wilmington, Monmouth and the North Carolina-Ashville will fill Georgetown’s schedule until Christmas vacation, when the Hoyas hit the road for an away game at Charlotte before heading home for the holidays. The road contest is a rematch from last year, when a late 49ers’ charge put a scare in the Hoyas, who ultimately won by three at Verizon Center. It will be Georgetown’s first true road game against non-power conference school since a December 2010 trip to Memphis, then a member of Conference USA.

After returning from Christmas break, the Hoyas will turn their attention to Big East play. As it has since the conference’s reshuffling two seasons ago, Georgetown will play both a home and away game against each of the nine other members of the conference. The dates and locations of those games have yet to be released.

The Hoyas will still have one more non-conference game to play however, traveling to Storrs, Ct., to renew another old Big East rivalry against UConn on Saturday, January 23. After a disappointing season following their national championship in 2014, the Huskies will likely be a top-25 team for much of the season, and the January matchup between the old foes figures to be another marquee game in a season full of them.

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The Rundown: Sports Stories for September 1

Track & Field

Infeld2

COURTESY GEORGETOWN SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE

As the runners came to the finish line in the women’s 10,000-meter race at the World Championships in Beijing, three runners, Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, Ethiopian Gelete Burka and American Molly Huddle were ahead of the pack, primed to earn medals.

But no one told Georgetown graduate Emily Infeld (MSB ’12) that.

Infeld surged from behind in the final steps of the race to earn the bronze medal in 31:43.49, leaning at the finish line to beat her compatriot Huddle by a miniscule margin of 0.07 seconds.

Men’s Basketball 

For many Georgetown students, studying abroad is one of the most memorable experiences during their four years of college. Whether it’s a summer in Madrid or a semester in Buenos Aires, the chance to travel overseas offers a host of opportunities to grow, both in and — perhaps more often — out of the classroom.

For members of the Georgetown basketball team, however, studying abroad is impossible. With practices that start in October and a season that extends well into March, the college basketball calendar ensures that the only chance student-athletes have to spend more than a few days abroad is on tours. The NCAA permits each school to take one tour every four seasons.

So, four years after infamously brawling with the Bayi Rockets during a trip to China, the Hoyas packed their bags this summer for a 10-day tour of Italy from Aug. 14 to Aug. 24.

Men’s Soccer

Men's Soccer

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA

Over the past several years, No. 3 Georgetown has shot to the very top of college soccer. The sport has definitely taken notice. Two Hoyas grabbed Big East preseason Player of the Year honors — senior forward Brandon Allen is the preseason Offensive Player of the Year and junior defender and co-captain Joshua Yaro is the preseason Defensive Player of the Year — and the coaches’ poll picked the team to finish in a tie for first in the conference with No. 6 Creighton. Along with Allen and Yaro, senior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry also made the Big East preseason all-conference team.

The Hoyas, including Allen and Yaro, have clearly earned the recognition they have received in the buildup to the season. A series of very strong recruiting classes and an attractive, advanced style of play has delivered results for the team, earning a trip to the national championship game and a quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA Tournament, as well as a Big East regular season title, all in the last three years. Despite the attention, awards and rankings, the Hoyas are looking to stay firmly focused on the games immediately ahead of them.

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Football Looks to Begin Upward Trend

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/ THE HOYA Senior quarterback Kyle Nolan and Senior running back Jo'el Kimpela will lead the Georgetown offense in the 2015 season. They recorded a combined 12 touchdowns and 2601 yards of offense in 2014.

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/ THE HOYA
Senior quarterback Kyle Nolan and Senior running back Jo’el Kimpela will lead the Georgetown offense in the 2015 season. They recorded a combined 12 touchdowns and 2601 yards of offense in 2014.

In Head Coach Rob Sgarlata´s sophomore effort, Georgetown football will look to continue climbing towards Patriot League success after last year´s 3-8 finish. Despite graduating 21 seniors after the 2014 season, including star defensive end and captain Alec May, the 2015 squad will feature experience in important places. The offense, anchored by senior quarterback Kyle Nolan and senior running back Jo’el Kimpela, will also return a couple of familiar faces on the offensive line and receiving corps. Defensively, the Hoyas pool of backs and the secondary will feature several seniors.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the Hoyas will once again face, and potentially struggle against, a Patriot League that has given them trouble in recent years. Only one Hoya, defensive back Ettian Scott, was selected to the preseason All-Patriot League team, hinting at the breadth of competition the Hoyas will again be facing this year. The Blue and Gray landed squarely at the bottom of this year’s preseason poll, in seventh place behind Holy Cross.

But with expectations low once again, Georgetown has a solid chance to prove itself as a program on the upswing. The Hoyas will again challenge themselves against Ivy League competition, facing Dartmouth and Harvard in nonconference play. A roster that features both tried and true veterans and a healthy number of new starters certainly has the potential to make a name for itself. And the Hoyas were regularly proving that they could stay competitive in games by the end of last season. With the exception of a 52-7 blowout at Fordham in the second to last week of the season, Georgetown finished the season with a series of close games against conference rivals. In the final five games of the 2014 schedule, it recorded three single-possession losses and a win over Lafayette, giving the team momentum it will hope to carry into the 2015 season.

As this year’s campaign unfolds, look out for the three home conference games—the late-season matchup against league-favorite Fordham (Nov. 14) in particular should provide a litmus test of Georgetown’s progress and is certain to be a meaningful game for the Hoyas should they have a successful season. Dartmouth (Sept. 19) will also be a chance for Georgetown to square off against one of the Ivy League’s better teams at home.

Ultimately, if the Hoyas can nail down road wins against the Patriot League’s weaker teams, then they have the luxury play important games against the toughest conference opponents — Fordham and Colgate — at home. With no guarantees in an often-hectic league, Georgetown has a chance to at least make itself heard this year. While there is plenty that still needs to be proven, if the Hoyas can remain competitive late in games, some funny and fortuitous bounces of the football could fall their way.

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Despite Key Losses, No. 25 Georgetown Full Of Potential at Every Position

Despite one major loss, graduated midfielder Daphne Corboz, and the departure of several other key players, the No. 25 Georgetown women’s soccer team remains an extremely talented team with great potential as a strong rising sophomore class comes into its own. The Hoyas open their season tonight at 7 p.m. against James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Goalkeepers

Key Losses: none

Familiar Faces: Graduate student Emma Newins, senior Lauren Trower

New Additions: none

Player to Watch: Emma Newins

A preseason All-Big East Team selection, Newins will be the Hoyas’ starting keeper this season in her final year of eligibility. Last campaign, Newins boasted a 0.87 in-conference GAA (goals against average), good for third in the Big East, and earned a spot on the All-Big East second team. Newins may also benefit from the addition of Lyndse Hokanson to the coaching staff. Hokanson is a former goalkeeper for George Mason University who coached last season at Valdosta State University.

Defenders

Key Losses: Jessie Clinton, Kaitlyn Del Savio

FILE PHOTO" JULIA HENNRIKUS/ THE HOYA Injuries forced defender Drew Topor to play several different positions last season. Her versatility and skill make her an important part of the 2015 team.

FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/ THE HOYA
Injuries forced sophomore defender Drew Topor to play several different positions last season. Her versatility and skill make her an important part of the 2015 team.

Familiar Faces: senior Marina Paul, senior Neela Mohan, sophomore Liz Wenger, sophomore Drew Topor

New Additions: Jodie Cornwell, Jenna Staudt

Player to Watch: Drew Topor

Georgetown’s rocks in central defense, sophomore Liz Wenger and All-Big East preseason selection senior Marina Paul, remain unchanged from last season. Their speed and strength in tracking back, as well as Paul’s specialization in getting forward and heading in corner kicks, were instrumental in the team’s overall success and its remarkable defense record. The Hoyas conceded just nine goals over a span of thirteen matches from mid-September to the beginning of November, resurrecting their season after disappointing losses to Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Sophomore Drew Topor filled in admirably at center-back for the injured Paul during last year’s NCAA tournament games against West Virginia and Virginia Tech and has been a fixture in the team’s starting lineup since the beginning of last season. Her versatility, along with her ability to bomb forward dangerously into the opponent’s box, makes her an integral cog in the Blue and Gray machine.

Midfielders

Key Losses: Daphne Corboz, Emily Morgan, Ashley Shaffer

Familiar Faces: sophomore Taylor Pak, sophomore Rachel Corboz, sophomore Chloe Knott

New Additions: Kaitlyn Mayer, Meghan Shaver

Player to Watch: Rachel Corboz

Sophomore Rachel Corboz will be expected to fill her sister’s shoes this season, and she is clearly more than capable of doing so. The intricate passing with wide players that she put on display last year may need to become the creative focal point of the Hoya attack, and her technical ability should allow her to step in and immediately create chances going forward. Replacing 10 goals and 18 assists is not easy, but if anyone can scythe through defenses like Daphne Corboz, it’s her sister, the new #10.

In defensive midfield, Sophomore Taylor Pak and sophomore Chloe Knott excel in distribution to Corboz and the forwards and in stopping attacks before they reach central defense. It will be necessary for these two to remain healthy this season, as the departures of Ashley Shaffer and, unexpectedly, Emily Morgan, leave the team with a lack of experience and depth in those two crucial defensive roles.

Forwards

Key Losses: Vanessa Skrumbis, Kaitlin Bast

FILE PHOTO: CLAIRE SOISSON/ THE HOYA Junior forward Grace Damaska had five goals and five assists last season. She is set to play a key role in Georgetown attack in 2015.

FILE PHOTO: CLAIRE SOISSON/ THE HOYA
Junior forward Grace Damaska had five goals and five assists last season. She is set to play a key role in Georgetown attack in 2015.

Familiar Faces: senior Sarah Adams, graduate student Audra Ayotte, junior Grace Damaska, senior Crystal Thomas

New Additions: Alyssa Cronin, Caitlin Farrell, Amanda Carolan

Player to Watch: Grace Damaska

With the exception of Vanessa Skrumbis, who provided 10 goals last season, the core of Georgetown’s attacking talent remains intact. Working with Corboz and her creativity may determine the success of the team going forward, but senior Sarah Adams and graduate student Audra Ayotte will always be willing runners and chip in their share of the goals. Damaska provides the ability to change any game with her remarkable pace and her height, as she showed against Butler in October 2014, when she notched three goals in a 4-2 victory. If Damaska can begin to score goals more consistently, the Hoya attack may prove to be one of the more formidable in the Big East.

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Freshmen Set To Feature for Georgetown Volleyball

Fortunately for Georgetown women’s volleyball, the main path for the 2015 team points upward for its upcoming season. After producing a losing record for the last three years, the team heads into its 2015 season with plenty of room for improvement. With a young roster and an experienced coach, the Hoyas may even be in the ideal position to have a turnaround season.

Last year, the Hoyas started out their season with an admirable 6-4 record. However, the team experienced a slump and an eight-match losing streak with losses to both out of conference teams and Big East foes. Georgetown picked up a few conference victories in October, but a seven-match losing streak at the end of the season dropped its overall record to 10-21.

Among the other teams in the Big East conference, the Hoyas’ biggest competition is Marquette and Creighton. The Golden Eagles and the Blue Jays both swept the Hoyas in all of their conference matches of 2014. Meanwhile, Georgetown beat DePaul in both the teams’ meetings and split matches with Villanova.

FILE PHOTO: NATE MOULTON/ THE HOYA Senior outside hitter Lauren Saar is the only senior on the team this season and will be relied upon to provide big plays and veteran leadership.

FILE PHOTO: NATE MOULTON/ THE HOYA
Senior outside hitter Lauren Saar is the only senior on the team this season and will be relied upon to provide both big plays and veteran leadership.

One concern for Georgetown this upcoming season is the fact that three of the Hoyas’ top performers from last season have graduated. Middle blocker Dani White, libero MacKenzie Simpson and outside hitter Alex Johnson all played consistently well in

their final seasons with the Hoyas. Junior middle blocker Ashlie Williams, junior outside hitter Lauren Saar and junior setter Caitlin Brauneis will now carry the responsibility to lead the team to a successful season.

There are eight freshmen on the Georgetown roster this season, representing two-thirds of the 12-person roster. Virginia native Kenzie Higareda will replace Simpson at libero. Outside hitter Alyssa Sinnette is another athlete to keep an eye out for, as Prepvolleyball.com ranked her in the top 250 nationally. Fellow newcomer and setter Paige McKnight of Atlanta was named the Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year for 2014-2015.

Of the four returning players, only one is entering her senior season. Senior outside hitter Lauren Saar has played in every match in the last two years for the Hoyas, recording at least ten kills in eight matches in 2014. Georgetown will rely on Saar both to perform and to lead a young squad.

Notable matches on Georgetown’s schedule are the season opener against George Mason in the D.C. Challenge Tournament at the end of August, a home match against Villanova on September 25 and an away match against a strong Creighton team at the beginning of October.

Head Coach Arlisa Williams enters her tenth season as Georgetown’s head women’s volleyball coach. Williams has totaled a 83-131 overall record and 26-71 Big East record in her career at Georgetown.

The volleyball team will make its debut in the D.C. Challenge against George Mason University, American University, and Howard University on August 28 and 29 on the courts at American University and in Fairfax, Va.

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