Despite Strong Performance, Men’s Soccer Doomed by Defensive Errors

September 25, 2018

Under the bright lights of Cooper Field, the Georgetown men’s soccer team (5-3-1, 1-1-0 Big East) demonstrated spells of impressive soccer, yet was unable to overcome two moments of defensive error, losing to visiting No. 6 Louisville (6-1-1, 3-0-0 ACC), 2-1. Sophomore forward Izaiah Jennings provided the game-winning goal, while senior forward Tate Schmitt added a goal for the Cardinals. Derek Dodson registered his fifth goal of the season for Georgetown, making him the team’s new goal-scoring leader on the year.

With inclement weather forcing the teams to play on Cooper Field rather than the Hoyas’ usual home fortress of Shaw Field, both teams struggled to find their footing in the opening 15 minutes. Cooper, with its turf surface and narrower sidelines, posed a unique challenge for both teams, and the opening portion of the game saw possession transfer hands repeatedly in the middle third of the pitch.

But both teams eventually settled in, and the first half saw good play from both teams. Schmitt opened the scoring in the 30th minute from a Louisville corner. Standing at the near post just one yard away from the goal, he received a pinpoint delivery from senior midfielder Adam Wilson and headed the uncontested effort into the back of the net from just steps away.

“It was a good goal from their point of view,” said Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese. “They took advantage of a soft spot in our zone. But we needed to handle that better. It wasn’t a good goal from our point of view.”

Though the Cardinals struck first, the Hoyas remained dangerous on offense, utilizing their pace down the wings to open up space behind the defense, whipping crosses into the box with ease. Just seven minutes after conceding, the Blue & Gray equalized on Dodson’s effort from inside the box. After being played in with an incisive pass from junior forward Riley Strassner, Dodson’s first touch led him around the defender and towards the goal. He then shot below the diving goalkeeper to knot the score at 1-1.

“[The response] was good. The guys just kept playing… It was great to get Dodson a well-deserved goal and Riley showed really good composure in finding him. I feel good about how we’re playing and how we’re attacking,” said Wiese.

At the half, both teams had recorded six shots and demonstrated their quality. After halftime, however, the Hoyas looked sharper, better maintaining possession and creating dangerous opportunities, albeit without a goal for a reward. Junior forward Achara, the reigning Big East Offensive Player of the Week, combined with Dodson and senior midfielder Ethan Lochner to create dangerous runs of play on the counterattack, but the trio were unable to find the correct final touch on multiple occasions.

Meanwhile, Louisville weathered the Georgetown storm by playing physically out of the back and slowing the pace in the midfield. While effective, this strategy enabled to Cardinals to accumulate several yellow cards, which eventually led to junior defender Louka Masset’s sending off in the 74th minute for accumulating two cards.

With Masset forced off, Louisville substituted a striker for another defensive player, slowing the game down. Georgetown dominated possession and showed some of its best offensive play of the season, yet sophomore goalkeeper Jake Gelvonatch was stout in goal to alleviate the pressure when his defense conceded shots. His five saves kept the Cardinals in the game despite their one-man disadvantage.

Then, in the 82nd minute, Georgetown junior defender Sean O’Hearn attempted to play a header back towards freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis, but his header sailed over Nikopolidis, leaving the Hoyas’ goal exposed. Jennings won the ensuing foot race and slotted the ball in to the net against the run of play, handing Louisville the lead.

“The second goal was obviously hugely crushing because of how well we were playing,” said Wiese. “Red card aside, we had good control of the game in the second half with some really good moments that we just didn’t quite get in. It’s not really excusable at the end of the day. It’s a young goalkeeper not really sorting out a situation, which that can happen. Give credit to Louisville, they found a way to get a goal. But it was 100 percent our own doing.”

Georgetown rushed numbers forward in the final eight minutes hoping to equalize, but the Louisville defense remained composed and cleared its lines to walk away with the win.

“Louisville’s a top-five team in the country and you handle them really well, but at the end of the day it’s a 2-1 loss” Wiese said. “Conceding goals like that, you can’t do it and win games against high caliber teams.”

Georgetown will travel to Milwaukee for a Big East matchup with Marquette (3-5-0, 1-1-0 Big East) on Saturday night. The game is scheduled to kick off at 8:00 pm ET. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for gameday updates and breaking news.

Tyler Pearre
Maryland native and D.C. sports fan. Forever romanticizing the days of Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas circa 2007.

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