The No. 24 Georgetown men’s soccer team (9-4-3, 5-2-1 Big East) fell to St. John’s (7-6-3, 3-2-3 Big East) 1-0 on a wet afternoon at Cooper Field on Saturday. The Senior Day game was a physical, back-and-forth matchup where clear chances were hard to come by, and freshman midfielder Skage Simonsen’s goal just before halftime was enough to seal it for the Red Storm. The loss means that No. 19 Creighton (10-3-2, 6-0-1 Big East) needs to lose to both DePaul (5-7-3, 2-3-2 Big East) and Georgetown in order for the Hoyas to share the Big East regular season title. It also complicates Georgetown’s Big East tournament seeding, which will become clearer only after Providence (8-6-2, 5-2-1 Big East) and Creighton play their remaining games.
The Hoyas had their first real chance of the game early on, as senior midfielder Kyle Zajec swung in a dangerous free kick in the third minute, but nobody could get solid contact on the end of it and the ball went wide left. After the early opportunity, St. John’s ramped up their aggression, picking up five fouls in the opening 20 minutes. In the 13th minute, a sliding challenge from sophomore defender Rafael Bustamante earned him a yellow card. After the game Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese spoke about his opponent’s assertive defense.
“[The physicality] was a big deal,” he said. “We had a lot of guys banged up. They’re a super aggressive team. A lot of yellow cards, rightly so, and I think it was fairly disruptive soccer. That was their aim and it worked pretty well.”
The Red Storm was charged with four yellows on the game, while the Hoyas received two.
In the 23rd minute, St. John’s leading scorer on the season, junior midfielder Matt Forster, had an excellent opportunity, but freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis made a fantastic save to keep it even. Two minutes later, freshman forward Tani Oluwaseyi was away on a one-on-one opportunity against Nikopolidis, but Georgetown was saved by an offside call from the linesman.
Throughout the next 20 minutes, the opportunities were sparse for both sides, as the game settled into a midfield battle, but the Red Storm eventually broke through in the 44th minute. The ball came to freshman defender Sanoussi Sangary on the left side of the box. He fired a shot towards the top right corner, but Nikopolidis stretched to make a stellar save. Unfortunately for Georgetown, freshman midfielder Skage Simonsen was perfectly positioned for the rebound and blasted the ball into the back of the net. Georgetown could not respond immediately and went into the break a goal down.
Early in the second half, the field conditions became more apparent, as the Hoyas had trouble holding onto the ball and making clean passes. In the 57th minute, sophomore defender Sean O’Hearn was forced to make a fantastic diving, headed clearance after his own errant passes began a St. John’s attack. Wiese was critical of his uncharacteristically shaky backline.
“I don’t think we were particularly sharp in the back with the ball,” he said. “Our passing in the back today wasn’t on.”
In the 60th and 61st minutes, senior defender Brendan McDonough sent a couple of dangerous balls into the box, but the Hoyas were unable to make solid headed contact. In the 63rd and 67th minutes, senior forward Achara got free down the left flank, but both times his passes across the face of goal were poor and the Red Storm was able to get the ball clear.
In the 72nd minute, Georgetown nearly had a huge stroke of luck, as Sangary misdirected a header back to senior goalkeeper Lenny Wilson. The ball went over Wilson’s head and he was forced to dive back and grab it before it crossed the line.
In the dying minutes, the Hoyas had a number of opportunities, but were repeatedly frustrated. Perhaps their best chance came in the 84th minute when junior defender Dylan Nealis aimed a cross at Achara, but the ball went off the crossbar and deflected off a Red Storm defender out of bounds. The Hoyas were unable to overcome St. John’s hard-nosed defense and ultimately lost their first conference matchup since falling to Xavier (4-7-5, 2-4-1 Big East) back on September 15. Wiese was frustrated with the result, but thought his team played well overall.
“I think we’ve actually played really well. This just wasn’t a real soccer game today,” he said. “I don’t want to sound like a purist, but this might as well have been played at St. John’s. I feel like we’re actually playing our best soccer of the year. If you play this game on Shaw, I think we win the game. I’ll be very honest with you.”
Georgetown led St. John’s in shots, 14-7. Wilson edged out Nikopolidis in saves, 7-4. The physical matchup featured 12 fouls from Georgetown and 11 by St. John’s.
The Hoyas travel to Omaha, NE for their final regular season game on Wednesday. The key matchup against conference-leading Creighton will kickoff at 8:00 p.m. ET. Follow @GUVoiceSports for updates on men’s soccer and all Georgetown sports.
Image Credits: John Picker/The Georgetown Voice