Surrender an early goal. Tie the game late in the second half. Win in extra time. The formula is not easy on the nerves, but so far it has worked for the Georgetown men’s soccer team (14-4-4) in this year’s NCAA tournament.
Last Tuesday, the Hoyas battled back from a one-goal deficit against Old Dominion (13-7-1), eventually scoring the game-winner with just seven seconds remaining in the second overtime period. Sunday’s game saw the pattern repeat, as Georgetown needed extra time to defeat No. 9 Syracuse (16-4-1) and secure its place in the final eight of the NCAA tournament.
“This time of year your seniors tend to carry you, and I think that was the case today,” said Georgetown Head Coach Brian Wiese. “They didn’t want it to end today. They were talking about it at halftime and they were talking about it going into overtime.”
The deciding goal came just under four minutes into extra time. Senior midfielder Tyler Rudy swung a corner kick into the near post, where senior midfielder Jared Rist reached the ball just before the Orange goalie could punch it away, heading it into the net for his first career goal.
“I love to make that near post run and get in right front of the goalie if he’s going to come out and get the ball. Once Rudy hit the ball, I knew I was in front of the keeper and it was about head-height or lower, so I knew I just needed to get a touch,” Rist said.
The Orange opened the game looking dominant, controlling possession and rarely allowing the ball to leave the Hoyas’ defensive half. But the visiting team failed to capitalize on this possession, and saw its best chance of the first half cleared off the goal line by junior midfielder Josh Turnley, who reacted just in time to prevent a shot from ricocheting through the penalty area and into the net.
“[Syracuse was the] best team we’ve played all year,” Rist said. “They were tremendous in controlling the game. But in a good game both teams are going to have stretches where they have the ball, and we just have to defend on those stretches.”
Then it was Georgetown’s chance to put pressure on its opponents. With 17 minutes remaining in the first half, sophomore midfielder Bakie Goodman’s shot from the top of the 18-yard box forced a diving save out of the Orange goalkeeper. The sides would create a few more chances in the opening period, but the game went scoreless into the half.
Syracuse managed to break the tie early in the second half on an impressive individual goal. Sophomore forward Alex Halis received a short corner kick and stepped past two Hoya defenders before curling his shot just inside the far post to make the score 1-0.
As the game continued and the home side searched for a tying goal, Georgetown pushed increasing numbers of players into the visitor’s end, leaning on a stout defense to hold up against any potential counter-attacks.
“When you have guys like [junior defender] Cole Seiler and [sophomore defender] Joshua Yaro in the back, it lets you take some chances going forward because they just clean up so much for you,” Coach Wiese said.
Eventually, the equalizer would arrive. In a sign of things to come, it was a Tyler Rudy corner kick which would tie the game with 10 minutes remaining. Rudy hit the corner across the box, where it found junior defender Keegan Rosenberry, who headed the ball into the top right corner of the net. It was an especially satisfying breakthrough for the team given its struggles on set pieces this season.
“I think it was a hundred-something corner kicks this year without a goal, but what a great one to break the ice with,” Coach Wiese said. “Rosenberry’s goal was a first class header. I think the fact that we were able to equalize in that way in that setting, with 10 minutes to play off a corner, which have been our Achilles heel all year says a lot about this team.”
Regulation time drew to a close without either team threatening the other’s goal. Early in the overtime period, senior goalkeeper Tomas Gomez was called upon to make a crucial save on a deflected shot to extend the Hoyas’ season. The senior in net kept the Hoyas alive, setting the stage for the heroics of seniors Rudy and Rist, who would connect minutes later to send the team through to the next round.
“I think it all goes onto the shoulders of the older guys who don’t want their careers to end, and they play like it,” Coach Wiese said.
On Saturday, the Hoyas will host Virginia (12-6-2) at Shaw Field at 1 p.m. to determine which team will advance to the Final Four in Cary, N.C.