After posting a 16-2-3 (6-1-2 Big East) record this year, the Georgetown women’s soccer team earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The team will host St. Francis University (10-11, 6-2 Northeast Conference) in its first round matchup on Sunday at 12 p.m. before potentially facing Rutgers (12-4-6, 4-2-5 Big 10) in the second round.
Head Coach Dave Nolan realized that there are high expectations for his team, but he’s not letting himself get caught up in the hype.
“I’d like to say, like anybody, that the end goal would be to win a National Championship, but we also have to be realistic in that we’ve never done it before, the closest we got was the Elite Eight in 2010,” Nolan said.
The team is coming off a scintillating performance against Marquette in the Big East championship game and hopes to keep the momentum gained from that triumph, but last year’s NCAA experience, losing to Hofstra at home in penalties, tells a cautionary tale.
In a tournament that could be decided by fine margins, the Hoyas hope to advance further in the NCAA tournament than they did last year. Georgetown has consistently performed well in close games this season, something that has distinguished these Hoyas from Nolan’s teams from previous years. The team has a record of 2-0-2 in overtime games during the regular season and won against DePaul in the Big East semifinal on penalties.
“I just think as a team we’re a little bit more mature (than last year)” Nolan said. “It’s just an older team, and I think they understand a little bit more that there’s less margin for error.”
This year’s second round matchup would see Rutgers, a team that Georgetown has already played this season, come to Shaw Field. The Hoyas left Piscataway, New Jersey with a win in September, but Nolan emphasized that a rematch with the Scarlet Knights will be no easy task.
“The fact that we’ve played Rutgers already, I don’t think it helps or hurts us. I think it gives us confidence because we know we’ve beaten them once, but that was an overtime game that finished on a wonder strike from Rachel (Corboz). That could have easily been a draw or a loss,” Nolan said.
Georgetown is used to tough second round draws since the women’s soccer tournament isn’t seeded the way the NCAA basketball tournaments are. Nolan notes that the tournament’s seeding has contributed to his team’s inability to advance past the second round since 2010.
“As draws go, it could be better, and it could be worse,” Nolan said. “In basketball, the number one seed will play the 64, the number two seed will play the 63, in soccer, and I think in most other sports, they protect the top eight teams, and then it’s all done geographically.”
If Georgetown wins its first two games, the team could potentially face Virginia (14-4-2, 6-2-2 ACC), who the Hoyas defeated earlier this season, or Penn State (12-4-4, 7-1-3 Big 10) in the Sweet Sixteen, before a hypothetical Elite Eight matchup in Palo Alto with one seed Stanford (18-1-1, 10-1 PAC 12) before the College Cup in San Jose.
The Hoyas already made history with their first Big East tournament title last Sunday, but the team is not satisfied with one piece of hardware. Despite the team’s difficult matches that may present themselves in the coming weeks, Georgetown hopes to overcome its recent struggles in the NCAA tournament and prove that the team is capable of competing against the nation’s best programs on collegiate soccer’s biggest stage.