Women’s Soccer Road-Trip Roundup: Hoyas wear the Hatters, lose duel with the Knights

September 22, 2015

Photo: Georgetown Sports Information

The Georgetown women’s soccer team (5-4-0, Big East) went 1-1 during their weekend road trip in Florida, dropping Friday’s match in Orlando to UCF (5-2-1, AAC) 3-1 before rebounding in Deland on Sunday with a decisive 4-0 result against Stetson (5-4-0, Atlantic Sun). These matches were the last of non-conference play before the Hoyas open up at Providence (6-3-0, Big East) on Saturday.

Against UCF, the Hoyas were slow right out of the gate, surrendering a goal in the 13th minute and spotting a 3-0 deficit heading into halftime. Georgetown found several opportunities in the second half, managing 8 shots and several near-misses. The Hoyas broke through in the 73rd minute, courtesy of a goal from senior forward Crystal Thomas, assisted by junior forward Grace Damaska. Still, this was an unsatisfactory performance in the eyes of both the Hoyas’ players and Head Coach Dave Nolan.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t come out to play with the intensity that was needed, and we dug ourselves into a hole, and we went down 3-0 in a game that probably should have been 0-0, but we gave up 3 soft goals,” said Nolan.

“In the second half, we played very well, got back into the game, and had enough chances to get a result, but just didn’t really get any breaks in the second half when we really had them playing in their own half. It was disappointing because I felt the girls really let an opportunity slip. I felt that it was a game that was there to win.”

When asked about the root of the issues to start the UCF match, sophomore midfielder Rachel Corboz was straightforward about the lack of energy in the first half.

“I think our problem against UCF was going into the game no one really had that much energy,” said Corboz. “Just before games, (we need to) make sure we’re all motivated and energized, coming out confident, ready to take on any team.”

Sunday was a different story, as the Hoyas came out in attack mode. Freshman midfielder Meghan Shaver took advantage of a badly cleared ball and scored just before halftime to cap a half full of created opportunities. The Hoyas would waste no time starting the second half, capitalizing off a corner kick with a score from graduate student forward Audra Ayotte. Sophomore defender Taylor Pak and Corboz added goals in the 62nd and 76th minutes, respectively, to seal the resounding win for a team that questioned its effort and engagement on Friday.

“Obviously we were really upset about Friday’s loss and we just took all that anger and came out really strong and got a good win against them,” Corboz added.

Coach Nolan looked to other options for Sunday’s matchup to get a better feel for what went wrong on Friday. A different starting lineup sent the memo that play needed to improve, and the team responded.

“I changed the lineup a little bit, because I wanted to freshen things up,” Nolan said. “I wanted to give some kids a chance to play because they’d been working hard. I also wanted to send a message to some of our starting players that if they’re not good enough there are other players that can come in and do the job.”

The decision paid dividends, according to Nolan.

“I really don’t know what changed. I don’t know if it was a mentality, or if the girls knew they played badly on Friday. I challenged them to come out of the non-conference schedule on the positive side rather than the negative side.”

Looking ahead to conference play, the Hoyas have high expectations and believe that the non-conference schedule has them ready for the Big East competition.

“We obviously had a really tough non-conference schedule, had some tough losses, but I think it’s important for us to have those types of games so we’re ready for Big East conference play,” said Corboz. “I think we definitely learned a lot from these past games, and it’ll really help us for the conference games coming up.”

Nolan expects big things from his team, but also acknowledges the nature of the setbacks and how they may present themselves in a gruelling conference slate. How the Hoyas respond to the adversity, and how they avoid the slow starts that have plagued them so far this season, will be the keys to achieving their goals.

“This team, to this point, the one thing that jumps out to me the most is how inconsistent we can be,” said Nolan.  “We have the ability to be really, really good, and we’ve shown that in games this year.”

But Nolan and his team understand that conference play, which starts this Sunday when the Hoyas travel to face Providence at 1:00p.m., is unforgiving.

“In the conference, every game means something, and if you don’t take every game and play it as a six-pointer, you’re going to end up on the outside looking in,” Nolan said. “We’ve given ourselves a target for what we need to do in the conference, which is to finish in the top 2, which gives us a bye in the first round, and that’s something we’ve managed to do successfully in the past. We’re probably going to have to win 7 of our last 9 conference games.”

Santul Nerkar
Santul is the Voice's former executive culture editor and Halftime Sports editor. Follow him on Twitter @SantulN to become one of his rare few followers.

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