For the first time since October of last season, the No. 5 Georgetown women’s soccer team (0-1, Big East) came away empty handed at Shaw Field, losing to the No. 1 West Virginia Mountaineers (1-0, Big 12) on Friday, August 18. West Virginia struck early in the game and, aided by sophomore goalkeeper Rylee Foster’s shutout performance, were able to hold on to win.
The game’s only goal came early in the first half, when West Virginia senior forward Michaela Abam scored in the 11th minute. Abam’s goal was a header from the near post, with an assist from junior forward Shi’Nia Gordon, whose cross was perfectly placed.
While the scoreboard may not have shown it, the Hoyas displayed their offensive prowess on Friday, out-shooting the Mountaineers 13-7, and leading the game in corner kicks, 9-4. Junior forward Caitlin Farrell took six shots, three of them on goal, and maintained a dominant presence on the offensive end.
“I thought [Farrell] gave them fits today,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan said after the game. “They didn’t really have an answer for her. I think if the game had gone on a little longer, she’d have gotten away from them.”
Although the Hoyas had a number of strong offensive chances, they were unable to get past Foster, who was dominant with seven saves. Foster, who represented team Canada in the U-20 Women’s World Cup, neutralized the Hoyas’ strong offensive performance.
“[Foster] was the difference,” Nolan said. “Not just in the shot stopping and her saving ability, but in how she managed the game… I thought we’ve probably seen the best goalkeeper in college soccer today.
The Hoyas had to battle more than just West Virginia’s strong performance, with temperatures in the low 90s and high humidity creating uncomfortably hot playing conditions. Fatigue was certainly a factor on Friday, with substitutions coming more frequently, and players on both sides struggling with plays that would be easier under fairer playing conditions. Still, Nolan was happy with his team’s play given the heat.
“I was very pleased with our fitness level,” he said. “To be fair, West Virginia is normally a team where they run you into the ground, and I actually thought today we ran them into the ground.”
“When it comes to outside factors that we can’t control, we just try not to think about it,” said senior defender Taylor Pak. “We just try to focus on our gameplan and what we need to do.
The Hoyas were aided by a number of freshmen making the start of their college careers. Defender Kelly Ann Livingstone and midfielder Grace Nguyen started for Georgetown, with Livingstone serving as a strong defensive presence and recording a shot. Freshman forward Jenna Menta came off the bench for Georgetown and had three shots on goal.
“It’s a tough baptism by fire for any of these kids to against a team like West Virginia in the first game of the season,” Nolan said. “I thought [Livingstone] did really well. I thought Grace did really well. I thought Jenna Menta was really lively and gave us a good spark off the bench as a freshman.”
The Hoyas return to Shaw Field on Sunday, August 20 to take on the George Washington Colonials (Atlantic 10). Although George Washington should not prove to be as tough an opponent as the nation’s top-ranked team, players and coaches were quick to point out that the Hoyas are taking the matchup seriously.
“They’re our cross-town rival, so it’s always going to be a tough game,” Nolan said. “They’re going to be up for the game… It’ll be another tough game. The last couple of years, it’s been a one-goal game every time.”
“We’re expecting a solid, athletic GW team,” Pak said. “That’s always a competitive game.”