Men’s soccer splits opening weekend results in South Carolina

August 27, 2018

The No. 13 Georgetown men’s soccer team (1-1, 0-0 Big East) had an up and down start to its season with a win and a loss on a two-game road trip in South Carolina. A late goal lifted the Hoyas to a 1-0 overtime victory over South Carolina (0-1, Conference USA) in their first game Friday night. They then headed east to Conway, SC to take on No. 18 Coastal Carolina (1-1, Sun Belt) in a tough early season test for head coach Brian Wiese’s squad. The Hoyas faltered Sunday night against the Chanticleers in double overtime, losing 2-1 to bring their early season record to .500.

Against the Gamecocks, Georgetown came out strong, keeping hold of the ball and testing senior goalkeeper Ian McGrane with early shots from sophomore forward Derek Dodson, graduate student midfielder Matt Ledder, and sophomore midfielder Jacob Montes. South Carolina pushed back in the remainder of the first half, forcing a series of blocks out of Georgetown’s back line in the 30th minute, but the game remained scoreless going into the break.

Early in the second half, Georgetown’s defense continued to hold strong. Freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis, making his collegiate debut, came up with a big save off a 25-yard shot in the 61st minute. Despite a string of substitutions from each side, the game remained scoreless to force overtime in the season opener.

The Hoyas struck gold early in the extra period. Some superb build up play got the ball to sophomore midfielder/defender Foster McCune who lofted a through pass down the right flank to senior midfielder Kyle Zajec. Zajec turned and sent in a perfect cross to junior forward Achara who was waiting to finish off the move with a strike past McGrane. With the first goal of the game, the Hoyas clinched victory. Wiese was pleased with the result in a tough first game.

“This was the first time that we’ve played South Carolina, and Coach [Mark] Berson is one of the premier coaches in our field so we were honored to play them,” he said. “It’s satisfying that our guys were able to sneak through a road result against a good opponent to start the year.”

Two days later, facing off against a top-25 Coastal Carolina side, the Hoyas got off to the perfect start with Dodson finding the back of the net in just the fourth minute after a scramble in the box. After the early goal, the Chanticleers went on the front foot, looking to respond as quickly as possible. Their aggression led to the referee calling a series of fouls and being forced to pull out his yellow card twice on Coastal Carolina before the halftime break. However, the strategy paid dividends in the 31st minute as senior forward Yazeed Matthews fired in a low shot just past Nikopolidis’ outstretched hand. Going into the half, the score was tied at one.

In the second period, it was the Hoyas applying the majority of the pressure. In the 64th minute, Dodson had a one-on-one opportunity against senior goalkeeper Chris Datallo, but struck the post. Their remaining shots in regulation missed the mark, forcing overtime for a second straight game.

The Chanticleers looked the stronger side in extra time, forcing two tough saves out of Nikopolidis in the first two minutes of the period, but one additional period would prove to not be enough.

Double overtime came, and Coastal Carolina finally found its reward. A corner kick in the 103rd minute went short to junior forward Tsiki Ntsabeleng who took a couple of touches and sent a powerful shot past Nikopolidis for the game winner. Wiese praised his opponent while hoping to build on the tough early season loss.

“Coastal is a really athletic, talented group of players, and they’re going to be good team this year,” he said.  “It just wasn’t our night with how the game went, but we had plenty of opportunities that we can grow from and take those lessons into our game on Friday.”

On Friday, the Hoyas will take on Radford at Shaw Field for their home opener. Kick-off is slated for 4:00 p.m. ET. Follow @GUVoiceSports for game day updates and continuing coverage of Georgetown fall sports.

Aaron Wolf
Former Sports Executive and 2020 Georgetown College graduate. Enjoyer of OPS.

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