Senior defender Elizabeth Wenger and sophomore defender Meaghan Nally walked onto Shaw Field at 12:30 pm singing and dancing to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” The rest of the team followed, and each player’s face showed a team that was loose and relaxed. Smiles were contagious, and even as the teams walked out for the lineup announcements, the Hoyas looked like a team without a care in the world, as if they weren’t about to play their biggest match of the season. It was the most free Georgetown has looked all year.
The Georgetown women’s soccer team (14-3-3), who before the Big East final was scoreless against ranked opposition in 2017, dismantled the nation’s top defense, Butler (12-2-5), by a 3-0 scoreline. Senior midfielder Taylor Pak opened the scoring with a header in the seventh minute, junior forward Caitlin Farrell added the second in the 51st minute, and senior midfielder Rachel Corboz put the cherry on top with a third in the 88th minute. Before today, no team had scored multiple goals in a game against the Bulldogs, who had only allowed four goals total on the season.
“This team has given up four goals all season, and we knocked three past them today and probably could’ve knocked four or five,” Georgetown head coach Dave Nolan said. “[We] really came out ready to go.”
Georgetown immediately targeted Butler redshirt sophomore defender Annika Schmidt, sending long balls to the left wing for the speedster Farrell. In the first minute, Farrell’s pace created a crossing chance, and although it was scooped up by Butler redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Luedtke, the tone was set for a very different match than the one in Indianapolis two weeks ago.
Corboz skewed her shot wide in the fifth minute before winning a free kick on the right wing two minutes later. Georgetown scored from three set pieces in their semifinal on Thursday, and with their first real set piece chance, Corboz floated a ball onto Pak’s head for a bullet header into the top corner, leaving Luedtke no chance of saving from point blank range. It was Corboz’s 44th Georgetown assist, taking her to two behind the all-time record of 46. After that, the Hoyas simply kept flooding forward, looking to add to their 1-0 advantage.
“We saw against Marquette, we scored early and right away their heads were down, so we knew coming into this game that one of our goals was to get on the board right away,” Corboz said. “We did it, and we were able to score more after that, which is great.”
Redshirt sophomore forward Amanda Carolan couldn’t direct her 11th minute shot on target, instead looping her first time effort on top of the net, and sophomore forward Paula Germino-Watnick began to torment Butler’s backline with quick changes in direction, leaving Butler defenders lunging as they struggled to keep their footing on the wet field. Carolan looped a header into Luedtke’s hands in the 20th minute from another set piece before Butler managed a shot on target from Schmidt’s tame header.
In the 24th minute, Nally bundled over Butler junior forward Paige Monaghan, the Big East Offensive Player on the Year, and received a verbal warning from the referee. Nally shadowed Monaghan as she did two weeks ago, denying Butler’s biggest offensive weapon any space to work chances. The rest of the defense, comprised of Wenger, freshman Kelly Ann Livingstone, and senior Drew Topor corralled the dangerous freshman forward Caitlyn DiSarcina, stifling Butler’s offense and allowing only two shots in the first half.
The game was spent in the other half of the field, and in the 35th minute Farrell flashed a cross through the six yard box that was nearly turned in by freshman forward Jenna Menta. Her sliding effort would only fizz wide of the far post before Butler created its biggest chance of the afternoon in the 37th minute.
Slick play along the right wing created the first real opening in Georgetown’s defense. A cross was laid off for a late arriving runner, but Georgetown senior midfielder Chloe Knott was alert to the danger and beat the Butler player to the ball to clear her lines. Corboz was all alone at the edge of the box two minutes later but couldn’t direct her left-footed curler on frame, not testing Luedtke. Monaghan made a vital sliding challenge to prevent a shot from Menta in the 44th minute, and the teams left the field for halftime to a wall of noise from the Georgetown supporters.
The Hoyas outshot the Bulldogs 11-2 in the first half and made a defense that looked impenetrable all year seem distinctly average. As Butler warmed up freshman goalkeeper Leonie Doege, one of three Big East Freshmen of the Year, she appeared to hurt her hand making a save. Doege taped her hand and still played the second half as usual, but a combination of the wet conditions and the potential injury to her hand made it difficult for her to hold shots that weren’t directly into her body.
In the 51st minute, Nally cut inside from the left and took a right footed shot. Doege couldn’t hold onto the defender’s effort, and Farrell pounced on the loose ball to tap into the empty net from two yards, giving Georgetown a 2-0 lead.
Doege redeemed her error six minutes later, getting her left hand onto a shot from Carolan to divert the ball against the post before the ball harmlessly rolled away for a corner kick. Pak had an opportunity from a corner two minutes later, blazing a shot from the center of the box over the crossbar before taking a long distance effort that deflected wide for a corner.
Butler threatened from a set piece in the 72nd minute, but senior defender Shannon McDevitt’s header flew well wide of the Georgetown goal. From the ensuing goal kick, Carolan won the header and flicked the ball towards the left wing for Menta. The freshman ran through the sliding challenge from Schmidt before shooting wide of Doege’s net.
Germino-Watnick killed time for the Hoyas, winning free kick after free kick in the attacking third as Butler pushed Monaghan up from her wingback position to an out-and-out striker, desperately sending long balls forward, but Georgetown’s defense calmly dealt with any danger, leaving the Big East Offensive Player of the Year stranded up front. Doege came for balls out of her box, looking to use her leg to drive Butler forward.
In the 88th minute, however, Doege scuffed one of her clearances from the edge of her box directly to the feet of Corboz. The Big East Midfielder of the Year calmly took an extra touch to get the ball out of her feet before playing a sumptuous chip over the stranded goalkeeper. The ball floated into the goal, and the scoreline reflected Georgetown’s dominance.
The crowd stood for the final 45 seconds to applaud its team that has now won back-to-back Big East crowns. Nolan escaped his players’ first two attempts to dump a Gatorade cooler over his head before being held in place for the third. The same relaxed demeanor exhibited by Nally and Wenger before the match returned in full force as the Hoyas danced to Katy Perry’s “Firework” from the scoreboard to the banners around the field for their photo op.
“We keep reiterating this idea of this team making our own history, so this is our ultimate goal, especially to host it in front of our own fans,” Pak said. “It means a lot to us.”
Schechtman, Wenger, Pak, Farrell, and Corboz made the All-Tournament team. Wenger won Big East Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player, while Corboz’s three tournament goals and two tournament assists earned her Big East Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player, and second place in the record books for most points earned in a Big East tournament with eight.
“I think that we’re playing our best soccer right now,” Corboz said. “To be able to get on the board for us and help us win the games is the most important, and I’m just happy that we were able to win it all.”
The Hoyas locked up the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament bid and enter in fine form, winning their two tournament games by a combined score of 7-0 and outshooting their opponents 43-6 over the two games. The two statement wins have taken Georgetown from a team on the bubble to a potential host for the first round.
The NCAA tournament draw takes place tomorrow at 4:30 pm ET on ncaa.com, and in their current form, the Hoyas are poised for another deep run into the postseason.