For the second consecutive Monday, the Georgetown men’s soccer team (4-0, Big East) defeated a ranked opponent at home, upending No. 15 UCLA (1-2, PAC 12) 1-0 on Shaw Field. The game’s lone goal was scored by Georgetown sophomore forward Achara, his fifth goal on the year.
Both teams were aggressive on the ball right from the opening whistle, with UCLA maintaining a majority of the possession. The Bruins, however, struggled in the final third of the field and were unable to generate many scoring opportunities. In contrast, the Hoyas did not control the ball as much, but when they gained possession, they made the most of it with excellent runs and passes. As a result, Georgetown compiled twice as many shots in the period as the Bruins.
While Georgetown generated chances in the early going, it wasn’t until the twelfth minute that Achara netted his goal after a turnover from UCLA sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Silva. Achara blocked a clearance from the goalkeeper and saved it from going out of play. He then remained patient and moved just far enough off the endline to have an angle on goal and slotted the shot into the opposite corner.
“I think we really needed that early goal to boost us,” said junior defender Peter Schropp. “That’s a great team. Once you get an early goal, you know you can beat them. So, I think that goal gave us the energy to just push through for 75 more minutes.”
The half continued with both teams struggling to affirmatively take control of play. Possession frequently changed feet and opportunities for either team were scarce. After a hard fought 45 minutes from both sides, the score at half remained 1-0 in favor of the Blue and Gray.
After the half, UCLA looked revitalized on the offensive end. The Bruins used a variety of attacking players to break the Hoyas down on both the wings and in the middle of the pitch. While UCLA was able to generate more attacking play, it came at a steep cost: allowing Achara multiple chances on the counterattack. The sophomore used his speed early and often in the half to generate three shots on goal in the opening six minutes of the period, two of which were inches away from providing the Hoyas with a two-goal cushion.
“In the second half, I think I could have finished a lot more,” said Achara. “I got some shots on goal, but I was just a bit unlucky.”
Midway through the half, the effects of Achara’s on-ball persistence were clear, as he went down with a cramp. During this time, the Bruins continued to attack, often holding the ball at the top of the Hoyas’ eighteen-yard box, yet were unable to direct their shots on target. UCLA seemed to find success advancing the ball almost anywhere on the pitch, but their finishing execution consistently let them down. The team’s closest opportunity came around 66th minute, but the shot narrowly missed the lower right corner.
“We were talking about that all week,” said Georgetown Head Coach Brian Wiese. “They have guys in the middle that can cause all of these problems, but they did most of their damage down the flanks today… They were a bit more multi-dimensional than perhaps we gave them credit for.”
“We knew that they were going to attack down the middle,” said Schropp. “We forced them outside… We let them cross and we ate up the crosses. We just were determined to let them not win that game. I think we did well.”
The Hoyas nursed their 1-0 lead for the remainder of the game, but the final five minutes were among the most hectic the team has faced all season. Georgetown sophomore midfielder Davey Mason went down with a knee injury, but play continued because Mason was off the field while injured. UCLA advanced the ball up field and looked poised to create chances, but the ball was cleared by Georgetown. After a UCLA foul shortly afterward, Georgetown asked the referee to substitute Mason, but the referee explained he could do nothing until Mason was back on the field. With fans and students booing the referee, Mason rolled onto the field and was substituted. Despite the confusion filling the stadium, the Hoyas maintained their lead for the final two minutes to claim the victory.
“The bench, including the coaches, gets excited,” said Wiese of the late confusion. “Sometimes referees can get nervous about that. It’s important for us to stay calm… I actually thought the last five minutes that we were okay. It’s good for the guys to close the game out and prepare for the league.”
Georgetown will return to action on Saturday on the road at Connecticut (1-2, American Athletic Conference). Then, the team will travel to Xavier on Sept. 16 for its first conference game of the season. With four wins to start the season and three shutouts under their belts, the Hoyas will hope to continue this success in the coming weeks.
“We can hold our heads high,” said Schropp. “I think the school is going to back us and I think it’s going to be a fun season.”
Image Credits: Georgetown Sports Information