Beating the same team twice in a season isn’t easy, especially when that team is your archrival. But the Georgetown women’s soccer team managed just that, defeating Syracuse 3-1 on Sunday to secure a spot in the Big East Tournament semifinals.
While the Hoyas (15-5, 8-3 Big East) are excited to be heading to their first semifinal since 2007, they still have a lot to work on before facing West Virginia on Friday. However, head coach Dave Nolan’s focus is directed more towards correcting his squad’s mistakes against the Orange rather than scheming for a talented West Virginia team.
“I just don’t think we played well [in the Syracuse game],” Nolan said. “To be honest, probably the worst thing that could have happened to us was scoring so early.”
A mere 52 seconds into the game, freshman Daphne Corboz scored off the rebound of a saved shot. Georgetown scored again in the 19th minute with a clever crossover in front of goal from senior forward Camille Trujillo. Still, Nolan was especially unimpressed with the Hoyas’ overall effort in the first half.
“I felt the first half was our worst performance of the year,” he said. “I know they can do better.”
In the second half, senior Ingrid Wells was able to guarantee the win, calmly putting in a rebound from her own saved penalty to extend the lead. While the Orange responded with a goal in the 76th minute, the 3-1 lead proved insurmountable.
Despite the Syracuse goal, Nolan was happier with his team’s second half of play, but Wells understands Nolan’s frustration with the Hoyas play early.
“Scoring early … is obviously a good thing, but I think our mentality shifted, maybe not for the best,” she said. “[We were] a little too confident.”
Both Nolan and Wells, although disappointed with the team’s overall play, were satiated with the win.
“It wasn’t a pretty game at all, and I don’t think we played our best but we still got the win,” Wells said. “That’s what good teams do.”
The physicality of the Big East matchup combined with the muddy conditions on North Kehoe Field resulted in a sloppy game. Four yellow cards were issued to the Orange, and a red card was issued to Syracuse midfielder Tina Romagnuolo after she cursed at an official in the 85th minute. An incensed Romagnuolo shoved Georgetown defender Alexandra Bushman as she left the field, giving the Hoyas something extra to think about until they next play their rival.
“I don’t even know what just happened,” Wells said minutes after the incident. “I’m still taken aback a little. I’ve never played in a game like that. I just want to let it go.”
However, with all that was at stake in the game, she can understand that the Orange had nothing left to lose. Nolan agreed, citing frustration as the major reason for the unsportsmanlike penalty.
“A better team would have beaten us today,” he said. “Find ways to perform and the results will take care of themselves.”
The Hoyas will look to do just that against West Virginia on Friday. Although defeating Syracuse likely assured Georgetown’s invitation to the NCAA Tournament, the team should have plenty of motivation to avenge their earlier 3-1 loss to the No. 12 Mountaineers.
Still Nolan, usually a stickler for his “one game at a time” mantra, can’t help but look ahead.
“The next step now is to make the Big East Championship,” he said. “We’ve never done that, and this is what we’ve been doing as the year goes on, just setting new goals. So maybe we’ll go try and win the game Friday night and see what happens Sunday.”
Winning the conference could portend big things: last year’s champion, Notre Dame, went on to win the national championship. But first comes the Hoyas’ semifinal showdown in Morgantown, where they’ll look to acquire a team-record 16th win.