Monday may have been Labor Day, yet it was anything but a vacation for the Georgetown men’s soccer team (2-1-1, Big East), which played 110 minutes of soccer against the visiting No. 10 Stanford Cardinal (0-0-3, PAC 12) to a 1-1 draw. Senior midfielder Ethan Lochner scored the go-ahead goal for the Hoyas, while senior midfielder Amir Bashti provided the Cardinal with a late equalizer.
Despite the intense heat on Shaw Field, Stanford pressed high up the pitch from the opening whistle, denying the Hoyas any breathing room. This allowed Stanford to generate several early chances with dangerous crosses and set pieces. Bashti hit the post with a shot from outside of the box after just 11 minutes of play, as the Cardinal appeared comfortable playing nearly 3,000 miles away from home.
While the press aided Stanford in the first ten minutes, Georgetown soon found its groove and began dominating possession. Graduate student midfielder Matt Ledder attempted an in-swinging shot from the corner of the box in the 14th minute that was nearly deflected into the net by a Stanford defender, and junior attacker Achara’s shot from the penalty spot was saved just minutes later.
“We were expecting [the press],” Georgetown junior defender and team captain Kyle Zajec said . “We had a good scout from one of our assistant coaches and we just looked to turn them to get in behind them so we could try and negate their press as best we could.”
The game opened up near the end of the half as heavy legs and the intense heat began to play a larger role. The Hoyas looked to exploit the Cardinal press on the counterattack, utilizing the speed of Achara, sophomore forward Derek Dodson, and Lochner. Several through balls penetrated the Stanford defense, but loose final touches by the Hoyas in attack and fantastic play from Stanford redshirt freshman goalkeeper Andrew Thomas kept the game deadlocked.
Georgetown earned its best opportunity in the 41st minute, when Lochner utilized quick possession skills in the box to weave through several Stanford defenders. As he attempted to shoot from five yards out, a late Cardinal challenge prevented him from getting off a quality shot. Lochner fell to the ground and the Hoyas appealed for a penalty. But Lochner was shown a yellow for simulating a penalty and Stanford maintained its clean sheet.
At the half, the teams remained locked in a scoreless draw, despite Georgetown registering eight shots to Stanford’s two and earning three more corner kicks than its opponents.
After the intermission, Stanford appeared more comfortable, but Georgetown quickly applied pressure throughout the pitch to mitigate whatever confidence the Cardinal may have generated to that point. The pressure nearly paid dividends in the 55th minute when a Stanford turnover quickly led to a Dodson shot from the top of the box, but Thomas was up to the task, diving to his right to comfortably save the attempt.
But there was no stopping the Georgetown counterattack ten minutes later, as the Hoyas pounced on a Cardinal turnover in the final third. Junior forward Riley Strassner passed to freshman midfielder Sean Zawadzki in the middle of the pitch, who played a perfectly weighted through ball to Lochner, who made a run between the center backs. Lochner got on the end of the ball as Thomas charged him, took a touch and finished the play with a right-footed strike to end the stalemate.
“I saw that we were going through the middle,” Lochner said “Both Riley and [Zawadzki] were having a great game and I just knew they were going to be able to complete the combo. [Zawadzki] was incredibly composed and found me at exactly the right spot. I was just trying to hold off the defenders and I got lucky with the finish,” .
Four minutes later, Strassner scored on a free header at the 6-yard box, but was ruled offside. Georgetown continued to attack, generating 15 shots in the second half, but was unable to find an insurance goal. Meanwhile, Stanford relentlessly attacked the Georgetown defense in the final ten minutes. The Cardinal missed on a free-header in the 79th minute and Georgetown committed several fouls in the following minutes, leading to good opportunities for Stanford. In the 87th minute, a free kick chance eventually led to the Cardinal’s goal. The initial service into the box was intercepted by Georgetown junior defender Dylan Nealis, but his attempted clearance fell to Stanford sophomore midfielder Logan Panchot, who immediately shot from 30 yards out. His shot was deflected right to the feet of Bashti in the box, and the senior slotted home his one-on-one effort past the outstretched arms of Georgetown freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis.
“There’s a couple of things we could have done better,” Zajec said of the goal. “But at the end of the day it’s just unlucky. It took a deflection and a good finish from their guy.”
“When you concede fouls and you’re up late against a team, that’s always a recipe for some trouble. Their goal ceded back to a foul at midfield that we didn’t handle very well. So that’s frustrating,” Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese said.
At the end of regulation, the Hoyas had outshot the Cardinal 23-11, yet the score remained tied. After seven minutes of overtime, Achara received a lobbed through ball and controlled the ball beautifully, using his speed to get behind the Stanford defense. But Thomas once again saved the day for Stanford, getting a small touch on the resultant shot, preventing a game-winning goal. In the final two minutes of overtime, Stanford generated multiple opportunities on goal, but couldn’t find the final touch to seal the game.
The second overtime was a back-and-forth affair in which neither team had a secure grip on the game. Georgetown freshman midfielder Zach Riviere earned the best opportunity of the period on an open shot from inside the box, but his left-footed effort across the goal was saved by Thomas. At the final whistle, the scoreline remained 1-1.
The Hoyas produced more shots (29-16), more shots on goal (10-4), and more corner kicks (11-4) than the Cardinal on the day, having played some of their best soccer of the season.
“I think what we can take away from that game is that we stayed composed. We were going to the last minute… the mentality from the team from the get-go to the 120 minute mark was just incredible,” Lochner said .
“You have to understand what Stanford is. You’re not playing their team, you’re playing their program. And you’re playing against a group that has a big identity for what they do and how they do it,” Wiese said. “Credit to our guys; I thought they did a good job of neutralizing what Stanford is really good at and how they make the game hard. I think we did literally everything you needed to do to win the game except for win the game.”
Georgetown will have five days of rest before hosting Yale (1-0, Ivy) on Sept. 9. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for game day coverage and breaking news.