The Georgetown women’s soccer team (7-4-0, 2-0-0 Big East) faces off against conference foe St. John’s (11-1-0, 3-0-0 Big East) this Thursday in what may prove to be a pivotal regular season match. Kickoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. at Shaw Field.
Georgetown has a narrow lead (7-6-2) in their history of matchups with St. John’s, which dates back to 1990.
But tomorrow, the Hoyas come into this game fresh off of two key Big East victories and on a three-game win streak. The team hopes to carry that momentum with them as they host their best conference opponent yet in the form of the Red Storm.
The Blue and Gray were scheduled to play Xavier (5-5-1, 0-2-0 Big East) earlier this week, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather. While the team sees this postponement as a chance to rest up for St. John’s, Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan also sees it as a missed opportunity.
“I would’ve rather played the [Xavier] game to get some momentum,” Nolan said. “But the girls understand clearly what’s on the line in this game. They’re excited to play.”
The team hasn’t stepped onto the pitch for a regular season game in almost a week, so training has been key.
“We trained Monday, Tuesday, and we’ll have a light practice on Wednesday,” Nolan stated. “We’ve had to try and get that momentum back by training hard, and we’ve had two good practices the last couple of days, and I’m hoping it will translate [into a win].”
Whether or not the training does pay off on the field, the Hoyas know what they’re up against when the Red Storm make the trip down to Washington. In training, the team has been paying special attention to how they will defend St. John’s senior forward Rachel Daly, a 2014 First All-Team Big East, who leads the team with 11 goals and four assists in 12 games. Daly recently set the St. John’s women’s soccer record for career goals, 42, and points, 94.
“[Daly] obviously needs special attention,” Nolan emphasized. “She has 11 goals on the season, which is over half the total goals for St. John’s this season. We’ve been working a lot on how we are going to defend her in practice this week.”
St. John’s redshirt senior defender Georgia Kearney-Perry (2014 Big East Defensive Player of the Year) also poses a major challenge to Georgetown on the back line.
“Having such a good central defender in Kearney-Perry means that we’re going to have to try to draw her out and then attack the open space created from that,” Nolan explained. “We’ve been focusing on her a lot in practice as well.”
Despite the Red Storm’s star-studded lineup, the Hoyas hope to counter with their own dynamic attack duo of junior forward Grace Damaska, who has six goals and three assists in 11 starts, and sophomore midfielder Rachel Corboz, who has five goals and four assists in 10 starts. The two combined for three goals and an assist last week in the Hoyas’ 5-1 beatdown at Villanova.
More than anything though, the Blue and Gray are excited to face St. John’s rival at home, on grass. Nolan sees this as a positive for two reasons: the grass surface at Shaw Field and the Hoyas’ historical dominance at home.
“St. John’s plays on turf,” Nolan added. “It’s a big advantage for us when we play those teams here on grass.
Up until this season, when the Hoyas lost to Virginia Tech and Connecticut at Shaw Field, the Hoyas had not been defeated at home in four years.
“I always feel confident that when we’re at home,” Nolan said. “We play well.”
Still, Nolan and his team are very pragmatic; he knows the challenge that awaits his team at Shaw Field this Thursday.
“St. John’s have the best defender and best forward in the Big East,” Nolan admitted. “It’s going to be a tough game, but if we play well, it’s definitely a game we can win.”