The No. 4 Georgetown women’s soccer team (16-0-3, 8-0-1 Big East) took a step closer to a Big East three-peat with a 3-1 win over Xavier (10-8-3, 4-3-2 Big East). Junior midfielder Carson Nizialek, senior forward Caitlin Farrell, and senior forward Amanda Carolan scored the goals for the Hoyas, and freshman midfielder Molly McLaughlin got the consolation for Xavier.
“I thought for 80 minutes we were exceptional,” head coach Dave Nolan said. “We did everything that we wanted to do for 80 minutes, and then the last 10 to 12 minutes, when they really just started throwing numbers forward, I felt we got a little bit sloppy.”
The first fifteen minutes were cagey as the two teams felt each other out, and Georgetown junior defender Meaghan Nally took the first shot of the match 14 minutes in. From there, the Hoyas sprang to life, with junior forward/midfielder Paula Germino-Watnick having her shot blocked, Nizialek hitting the crossbar, and graduate student forward Kyra Carusa directing a header into Xavier junior goalkeeper Toni Bizzarro’s arms, all during the same attack in the 15th minute. Two minutes later, Farrell played a beautiful cross to the back post, but the sliding Germino-Watnick could only direct her shot wide of the post.
“Their field was a lot more narrow than Shaw is,” Carolan said. “We were able to take advantage of the width and take them down the sidelines, which I don’t think we did as much when we played them at Xavier.”
Georgetown kept up the pressure for the rest of the half, and in the 38th minute, Carusa clipped a perfect pass over the top to freshman forward Boo Jackson, but Jackson’s touch was too heavy and the ball ran to Bizzarro. Two minutes later, after good work on the left hand side from Germino-Watnick and Jackson, sophomore forward Jenna Menta received a pass, turned her defender, and unleashed a low drive that Bizzarro only just got her hand to, allowing a Musketeer defender to clear the ball away. A mazy run from Carolan won the Hoyas a corner in the 43rd minute, from which the Xavier resistance broke. Junior forward Casey Richards swung in a corner that hit the hand of a Xavier player in the area, and Nizialek calmly stepped forward and buried the penalty into the bottom left corner, leaving Bizzarro no chance.
The Hoyas deservedly took a 1-0 lead into halftime and held a 10-0 shot advantage over the Musketeers at the interval. Unlike last Thursday, when Xavier came to life in front of their home crowd in the second half, the Hoyas would put them away early.
The Hoyas gave Xavier warning signs early in the second period, as Carolan forced a save from Bizzarro and Germino-Watnick beat a defender one-on-one before firing a left-footed shot over the bar. In the 52nd minute, freshman defender Jenna Royson drove at the Xavier defense, slipping Carolan in behind with a reverse pass. Carolan played a first time cross to the back post, and Farrell found herself unmarked and put her header down into the ground, past the stranded Bizzarro to double the lead. Not even 40 seconds later, the Hoyas went on the counter, with Germino-Watnick playing a one-two with Farrell. Bizzarro got her foot to Farrell’s shot, but the rebound fell to Carolan, who thumped the ball past the recovering defender into the top corner for 3-0.
“I look at the chances we created, a variety of chances in different ways,” Nolan said. “I don’t think 5-0 would’ve flattered us.”
The Hoyas kept the pressure on, with both Nally and Farrell testing Bizzarro from distance. Carusa outmuscled her defender, leaving her on the ground, before rolling the ball just wide of the far post in the 58th minute before Carolan nearly scored again, hitting the side netting from Royson’s cross in the 66th. Xavier’s first shot of the half came from freshman midfielder Rachel Butler in the 68th minute, but senior goalkeeper Arielle Schechtman calmly held on to Butler’s shot and relieved the pressure.
As Xavier’s season dwindled to a close, they continued to throw numbers forward in desperation and managed to steal a goal as Georgetown took its foot off the gas. Redshirt junior midfielder Samantha Dewey, Xavier’s leading scorer on the season, won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and drove it low at goal. Schechtman spilled the initial shot, and McLaughlin got the final touch after scramble in the box in the 84th minute.
“We had talked about their 21 [Dewey], when she gets the ball, to make sure there’s always a second player as she gets it, so when she would turn off one player the second player was going to be right there,” Nolan said. “It was the one time in the game where we fell asleep, and when she turned out of midfield, the second player hesitated, and then she came, and then she fouled her.”
The Musketeers would come no closer though, as Schechtman came to collect a cross in the next minute and the Hoyas were able to do enough to get over the line for the deserved win.
Georgetown ultimately outshot Xavier 22-4 and built on its dominant Big East Tournament performances of the past two seasons. The Hoyas now await the winner of the other semifinal match between Butler (12-5-1, 6-2-1 Big East) and Providence (11-5-3, 4-3-2 Big East), which kicks off in Indianapolis at 7 p.m. ET.
“In our locker room, Dave [Nolan] put up these big threes for three-peat, so it’s something that’s always been circled and highlighted and huge on our calendar,” Carolan said. “Every minute we’re on the field counts toward what we’re focused on, which is the three-peat, and just rest, recover, and when we find out who we play next, just remind ourselves that this is huge.”
The Big East final will kick off on Shaw Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, where the Hoyas look to tie former Big East member West Virginia for the second-most Big East tournament championships with three, trailing only Notre Dame, another former member, with 11. For live updates and breaking news for women’s soccer’s postseason run, as well as the rest of sports on campus, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.