The No. 4 Georgetown women’s soccer team (17-0-3, 8-0-1 Big East) is once again the Big East champion after a 1-0 win over Butler (13-6-1, 6-2-1 Big East) on Shaw Field. Senior forward Caitlin Farrell, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player, scored her 17th goal on the season in the third minute to propel the Hoyas to a tournament three-peat, with all three victories coming at home. The match also marked head coach Dave Nolan’s 200th win at Georgetown.
“It’s never an easy thing to do. It’s just a testament to these kids and how hard they work, and how the kids in the program have raised the program every year,” Nolan said. “They’ve done a great job of creating a culture where success is expected, but also they know it doesn’t come cheaply. It doesn’t come without sacrifices and hard work.”
Farrell’s goal came from the Hoyas’ first attack. Hold up play from graduate student forward Kyra Carusa created time for sophomore midfielder Grace Nguyen to join the attack. Nguyen played an incisive through ball for Farrell, who blasted into the top corner past Butler’s redshirt junior goalkeeper Hannah Luedtke.
From there, the Hoyas began a period of dominance in the first half, with freshman defender Jenna Royson getting down the right hand side while the rest of the back line, led by the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player sophomore Kelly Ann Livingstone, shut down Butler’s attack. Nguyen dragged a shot wide in the eighth minute, and junior midfielder Carson Nizialek had her drive deflected wide for a corner in the 20th minute. Two minutes later, Carusa escaped her defender in the box, but couldn’t direct her header on target, looping it over the top.
“We knew what we had to do defensively,” Livingstone said. “Just stay tight, stay marked, stay focused, and we did that today.”
As the game continued, Butler slowly grew into the action. In the 32nd minute, senior forward Paige Monaghan, forced a brilliant recovery run from Royson to prevent a scoring chance. Schechtman was forced to become more active as well, commanding her box through contact in the 38th minute.
Despite all their early dominance, outshooting Butler 7-0, the Hoyas only scored one goal, leaving an opening for the Bulldogs to chase the game.
“We probably should’ve gone in [to halftime] more than one goal to the good, and the problem then is you keep a team in a game, and then they have no choice but to go for it,” Nolan said. “And we never really got the game back.”
After the break, Butler looked to strike again on the counter, with Monaghan stretching for a left-footed shot in the 49th minute that looped wide of Schechtman’s goal. In the 52nd minute, it was Georgetown who had a chance. After a corner led to a scramble in the six-yard box, junior defender Meaghan Nally got her toe to the ball, but it slowly rolled into the hands of Butler’s sophomore goalkeeper Leonie Doege. Schechtman made her first save of the match in the 55th minute when the Hoyas were caught four-on-four in the back, and seven minutes later, Nizialek nearly hit the target with a left-footed curler.
As the game stretched out, the midfield battle became more physical, and freshman midfielder Morgan Kloosterman made it into the referee’s book in the 65th minute for a high elbow on Royson. The free kick from the wing was served into the box and eventually fell to Nizialek, who had a shot on goal that Doege held comfortably.
Farrell nearly doubled the Hoyas’ lead in the 71st minute, but Doege got a strong left hand to the strike to push it out of the danger area, at which point the Bulldogs went for it all, throwing everything at the Hoyas’ back four in search of an equalizer.
With all of Butler’s pressure, the Hoyas struggled to keep the ball, but Schechtman didn’t have any saves to make as the defense held firm. Doege rushed to take a late free kick from midfield in the 88th minute, but Schechtman held it easily, and as the Hoyas hit the ball forward, Carusa managed to win a corner. The Hoyas held the ball in the corner for all the but the final 20 seconds, leaving too little time for Butler to get forward. Carolan nearly added gloss to the win, but she dragged her shot wide with three ticks left on the clock.
“We seemed to not have our spark as much as we did in the first half of the first half, but we kept it together for the rest of the game,” Livingstone said.
It wouldn’t matter in the end, as the Hoyas capped off an unbeaten Big East season with more silverware to their name, and will now look ahead to the NCAA Tournament selection show on Monday. The first round of the tournament will be either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
“I’ll certainly be hoping for a home game in the first round. Last year really taught me not to count my chickens before they’ve hatched,” Nolan said. “But I would feel we’ll probably be a 2-seed. It would be nice to be a 1, I’m not sure if we’ll get that.”
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