The No. 19 Georgetown women’s soccer team (12-3-3, 6-1-2 Big East) will host Marquette (13-6-1, 5-4 Big East) in the Big East Tournament semifinal on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. The top-seeded Hoyas are looking to defend their conference title, beginning their bid against the team they trounced in the final a year ago.
Georgetown boasts a star-studded lineup, with five players making the All-Big East First Team, two making the second team, and two more earning a spot on the freshman team. Senior midfielder Rachel Corboz won Big East Midfielder of the Year, senior defender Elizabeth Wenger won Big East Defender of the Year, and senior goalkeeper Arielle Schechtman won Big East Goalkeeper of the Year. The team won home field advantage in the first year that the women’s tournament is be played at campus sites, an advantage that head coach Dave Nolan has stressed throughout the year.
The Hoyas haven’t lost at Shaw Field since the season’s opening day against then-No. 1 West Virginia (15-3-1, 7-1-1 Big 12), and haven’t been shutout since playing then-No. 14 Rutgers (12-2-5, 6-2-3 Big 10), who lead the nation with 15 shutouts. Aside from those two matches, only Creighton (4-11-3, 2-5-2 Big East) has earned a result in D.C., even though the match was dominated by Georgetown. The conference title goes through Georgetown, who won the tournament a year ago on home soil.
“I think they’d probably be more excited about winning and getting to host a Big East final here on Sunday because even if we do advance to the NCAA tournament, there’s a chance we would not get a home game,” Nolan said. “So the chance to play two more games here this weekend would be great for everybody, in particular for the seniors.”
Two weeks ago, Georgetown beat Marquette 3-0 behind goals from senior midfielder Taylor Pak, sophomore forward/midfielder Paula Germino-Watnick, and redshirt sophomore forward Amanda Carolan. It could have been more, as Corboz missed a penalty in that match, and the dominant Hoyas outshot the Golden Eagles 22-3.
“We came out pretty strong, which was huge,” Nolan said. “I think we set the tone in the midfield. I thought our midfield three did a really good job of dominating that part of the field.”
Corboz, who scored the free kick against Xavier (8-8-4, 4-3-2 Big East) that clinched home field advantage, led the team in points over the regular season and ranks second in the nation with 10 assists. She remains four assists behind Ingrid Wells for the Hoyas’ all-time record. Carolan led the team in goals, and the Blue & Gray are tied for second in the nation with 14 shutouts along with No. 1 Stanford (17-1, 10-0 PAC-12) and No. 20 Butler (12-1-5, 5-0-4 Big East).
However, the Hoyas haven’t had the same success against ranked teams that they had in 2016. At this point in 2016, Georgetown had dispatched of No. 19 Rutgers, No. 3 Virginia, and No. 2 West Virginia, making its place in the NCAA Tournament a formality even before the top six Big East teams came to Shaw Field for the league’s postseason tournament. This year, after remaining scoreless against the four ranked opponents (then-No. 1 West Virginia, then-No. 5 Stanford, then-No. 14 Rutgers, and then-No. 22 Butler) on their schedule, the Hoyas need a win against Marquette to cement their spot in the NCAA field.
“If we win this, I think it would be very difficult for a committee not to include us should we not advance in the final, or not win the final. If we lose this, I think we put ourselves at the mercy of a committee, and that’s never a good thing,” Nolan said.
In the three games since losing to the Hoyas, Marquette has scored eight goals and allowed none.. Redshirt junior midfielder/forward Carrie Madden, another All-Big East First Team honoree, is looking to lead a Golden Eagles upset and play spoiler to Georgetown’s tournament hopes. But should this match play out like Marquette’s two most recent visits to Shaw Field, Madden will hardly get a sniff on offense.
The prospect of hosting another Big East final looms for the Hoyas if they win. If not, it could be the final curtain call for the decorated Georgetown senior class.