On the final day of regular season soccer in the Big East conference, the No. 18 Georgetown men’s soccer team (12-3-2, 6-2-1 Big East) defeated Creighton (9-6-2, 3-4-2 Big East), 3-1. Although it was Senior Day at Shaw Field, two freshmen, midfielder Jack Beer and forward Derek Dodson, scored all of the Hoyas’ goals in the victory. Creighton’s lone goal was scored by senior forward Ricky Lopez-Espin.
Entering the game, the Blue & Gray were tied with St. John’s (8-6-2, 5-2-2 Big East) for second place in the conference standings, but St. John’s owned the head-to-head tiebreaker. However, later in the day, St. John’s was held to a scoreless draw at Providence (5-7-5, 2-2-5 Big East), helping the Hoyas secure the No. 2 seed. Along with home-field advantage through the tournament’s semifinals, Georgetown will enjoy a first-round bye.
While the scoreline of the game indicated a dominant victory for Georgetown, the first 30 minutes of play were anything but impressive. By virtue of soft field conditions, errant passes, and sloppy defensive spacing, Creighton frequently broke down the Georgetown defense to create dangerous crossing opportunities. Junior defender Peter Schropp, who has started every game he has been healthy for this season, was not in the lineup due to a hamstring injury. The Hoyas were bailed out by junior goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski three times in the half, but Lopez-Espin received an excellent cross for an unmarked header from six yards out to break the scoreless deadlock in the 27th minute.
“The first thirty minutes was truly dismal stuff by us,” said Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese. “The guys weren’t individually handling their jobs at the end of the day. Collectively, we weren’t together defensively.”
Luckily for the Hoyas, the Georgetown MedStar Hospital helicopter was forced to land next to the field immediately following the goal, giving the Hoyas time to talk things over. Marcinkowski and senior midfielder and Christopher Lema used this time to calm their teammates down.
“Basically, we were just telling everyone to relax… We just needed to calm down and work together as a team. We’ve been down 1-0 before and come back plenty of times,” Lema said.
Within three minutes of this timeout, the Hoyas found their equalizer. Senior forward Declan McCabe received a long through ball down the left side of the pitch. He then poked behind the Creighton defense. Just before hitting the endline, McCabe cut towards the middle and fired a shot directly at Creighton senior goalkeeper Michael Kluver. Kluver deflected the shot right to the foot of Beer in the middle, who rebounded the save into the open net.
The remainder of the half was more evenly contested, with the Hoyas displaying newfound energy after Beer’s goal. With just over six minutes remaining in the half, sophomore forward Achara, who was injured in the team’s Oct. 6 game against Butler (12-4-1, 8-1-0 Big East), was substituted onto the pitch. While his minutes were severely limited, his pace and playmaking ability were on full display, as the Georgetown attack seemed to find a new gear with the sophomore at its head.
“I think today was really great just to get him in. He literally hasn’t trained in three-and-a-half weeks,” said Wiese. “It was really important for us to get him those minutes today in hopes that he plays in the Big East Tournament in the hopes that he can give you that much more.”
At the half, Creighton outshot Georgetown nine to two, but Georgetown’s goal had swung the momentum in its favor. The second half, however, was a much different story.
The Hoyas were dominant from the half’s opening whistle. McCabe hit the inside of the post in the 47th minute and senior forward Zach Knudson’s one-on-one with Kluver was saved by the keeper in the 55th minute. McCabe just missed wide on another chance in the 60th minute. While they hadn’t found the back of the net, Georgetown was clearly determined to put the game away. The team’s persistence paid off in the 78th minute. Lema sent a screaming shot directly at Kluver from 30 yards out. Kluver deflected the ball in front of the goal, and Dodson beat the Creighton defense to the loose ball for a tap-in goal.
“Whenever someone shoots it, I try to get into a good spot for a rebound, because, more likely than not, the goalie is not gonna be able to handle it. So, the ball just bounced for me perfectly and I just slid in to get there,” Dodson said.
Shortly after, Dodson added to his tally with a transition goal. After a Creighton turnover, junior midfielder Ethan Lochner played a through ball to junior midfielder Edson Martinez. Martinez displayed his composure by slowing the pace to wait for other attacking pieces. Dodson ran to the top of the box unmarked, and rifled his first-time shot off of Martinez’s pass into the top corner, guaranteeing a Georgetown victory.
Georgetown managed 19 shots in the game, 12 of which came after the half. Creighton recorded 11 attempts. The three goals were a welcome sign for a Georgetown offense that failed to score in either of its previous two games.
“It’s really good going into the postseason because we know we’re going to need goals. It’s nice that we’re out of that little groove of not scoring. Three goals is a really good result to get against Creighton,” Dodson said.
“It’s an incredible feeling, first of all, to be able to get a win on Senior Day. Winning after a couple of bad results really changes the dynamic of the team; switches the momentum,” Lema added. “Now the team is in a good spot. We’ve been able to get back to our old ways of winning and playing our style of soccer.”
Georgetown will have a week to rest before their semifinal match in the Big East Tournament on Nov. 8. The Hoyas will host the winner of third-seeded St. John’s versus sixth-seeded Creighton.