Despite a sizeable gap between the two sides in the conference standings, the No. 10 Georgetown men’s soccer team (11-2-2, 5-1-1 Big East) and Providence (4-7-4, 1-2-4 Big East) played to a scoreless draw on Wednesday afternoon. Both teams managed just two shots on goal in 110 minutes of play, and five yellow cards were issued in a bruising Big East match.
The draw earns both teams a point in the conference standings, as Georgetown falls two points behind Butler (10-4-1, 6-1-0 Big East) for first place, while Providence sits at seventh, one point behind Creighton (8-5-2, 2-3-2) for the sixth and final spot in the conference tournament. Georgetown and Butler have already clinched their spots in the tournament field.
“When you play a good team in the league, a team like Providence, you’ve got to get a lot of things right,” Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese said. “A tie is an unsatisfying result… nobody is happy after a tie.”
From the opening whistle, the game was evenly contested. Providence pressed Georgetown early and often, committing as many as six players to press in the Hoyas’ half. The frenetic pace disrupted Georgetown’s flow, but also forced Providence into sloppiness on offense, resulting in a largely stagnant game for the first ten minutes. The Hoyas adjusted and were able to connect several passes in a row on multiple occasions.
“I think we knew that they were going to come out pressing; they were going to come out really hard because this is a huge game for their season to keep going forward,” junior defender Peter Schropp said. “I think we were prepared. I think they did a really good job with it. They were working hard and working as a team. It showed. It made us, kind of, act a little uncharacteristic – lose a few balls. Credit to [Providence], I think they played well.”
After a largely uneventful 25 minutes, Wiese substituted senior forward Zach Knudson onto the pitch. Knudson worked with senior midfielder Declan McCabe and freshman forward Derek Dodson down the middle of the pitch to generate offensive opportunities, but the Providence defense was quick to recover when beaten. Physical play from both sides insured that no shots from either team were threatening. Knudson’s best chance came from 12 yards out in the 43rd minute but was blocked by two Friar defenders, while no other Hoya recorded a shot on frame in the first half.
“I think they did a really good job of disrupting us. I thought we had a slow start recognizing what we should have recognized in terms of what they were giving us,” Wiese said. “As a result, we never got into a rhythm like we would have liked. We weren’t as dangerous as we’ve been.”
As Providence fatigued, the pitch opened up for the Georgetown offense, but the team struggled to generate any threatening opportunities. Inaccurate passes, a lack of movement, and errant shots plagued the Hoyas throughout the half.
“From our end, we needed to find a few ways to execute some things better. There was a little bit of a lack of sharpness today… I think the legs were a little tired today,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas’ best chance of the game came in the 62nd minute. Freshman midfielder Jacob Montes played a ball down the side for McCabe, who sent in an early cross to the far post for Knudson. The ball took a bounce just in front of Knudson, forcing the senior to adjust his shot. The result was a diving save from Providence redshirt junior goalkeeper Colin Miller.
Twenty minutes later, Georgetown earned a corner, which was taken by senior midfielder Christopher Lema. Lema’s cross into the box appeared to be deflected by an outstretched Providence hand, but play was allowed to continue. The entire Georgetown bench and crowd was livid, begging the referee to call the infraction. From there, the game got chippier as the end of regular time approached, with Providence redshirt senior forward Mac Steeves and junior midfielder Brendan Constantine each receiving a yellow card in the final six minutes of regulation.
In the overtime periods, Georgetown managed two shots to Providence’s three, but neither team looked poised to score. As the second overtime neared its conclusion, it was clear that Providence would be content with a draw on the road, as the team focused on possession rather than scoring the go-ahead goal. In the end, Georgetown failed to win at home for just the second time all season.
“I think you have to give a lot of credit to Providence,” Wiese said. “I mean, they’re a team that, when we watched them on video, we were wondering why they’ve had a rough patch to their season. They’ve just got good players. They’re well organized and very committed. I think they’re very well coached.”
The shutout was the Hoyas’ fourth straight and eighth total on the year. The program record for consecutive shutouts is six.
“We’re doing a really good job right now of when opponents play a ball backwards, we get our line up, forcing their forwards to back up as well. And we also know when a defender has his head up and is looking to play a long ball, we’re reading it well and dropping as a unit. I think our back line is doing really well right now,” Schropp said.
The Hoyas will return to action on Saturday at 7:00 pm ET in Queens, N.Y., when they take on St. John’s (7-6-2, 4-2-1 Big East). A draw guarantees Georgetown at least third place in the conference, while a win insures a first-round bye and top-two seed in the conference tournament.
Image Credits: Tyler Pearre/The Georgetown Voice