The No. 19 Georgetown men’s soccer team (13-5-3, 6-2-1 Big East) lost in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 to Michigan State (13-4-4, 4-2-2 Big Ten) 1-0 on Sunday at Cooper Field, after Shaw Field was deemed unfit for play due to yesterday’s rain. The loss ends the Hoyas’ 2018 campaign and is the end of the line for the program’s seniors. The lone Spartan goal came from sophomore midfielder Michael Miller in the 45th minute.
The Hoyas came out of the gates strong, and in the 2nd minute, junior forward Achara had a point blank chance, but his shot missed high. Then, in the 14th minute, sophomore forward Derek Dodson forced a save from redshirt senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague. Georgetown kept pushing, and in the 23rd minute, was awarded a corner. On the resulting play, the ball was cleared off the line, however the Georgetown players thought the ball had gone in, and let the referees know, but there was no call, and the score remained 0-0.
“The guys were really upset because they thought it was in,” head coach Brian Wiese said. “We don’t have VAR, but I’m hoping it wasn’t over the line because the [assistant referee] was right there, so I’m hoping he got that right.”
The game continued in a back and forth fashion for the rest of the half, with both teams generating chances, although the Hoyas outshot the Spartans 7-3. The lone goal of the game however, came with just 31 seconds to play in the half when Miller hit a rocket from outside the box. Freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis got a hand on it, but the ball hit the inside of the far post and caromed into the net to put the Spartans up.
“The goal killed our momentum,” senior defender Brendan McDonough said after the game. “I felt like we had them going there pretty good in the first half. We could pack them in pretty well, we kept the ball in their half, we had some chances, but we knew that they were good on the counter, they were good at making stuff out of nothing and when you let a good player come in and shoot, he’s probably going to get a good shot on goal.”
Georgetown came out firing again in the second half, but struggled to generate real chances. While McDonough and senior defender Peter Schropp steadied the Hoyas and helped maintain possession in the back, the offense was unable to get shots on frame. The Hoyas’ best chance of the half came in the 56th minute when senior midfielder/forward Ethan Lochner’s cross was stopped by Hague, and Hague lost track of the ball in the play. Dodson was able to get a head on it, but his shot went just high. The Spartans packed their defensive box with players, blocking many of the Hoyas’ chances.
“You have these little moments, but it just didn’t go in,” Wiese said. “When you’re playing this deep in the NCAA Tournament, you’re going to have to take advantage of your moments and it just didn’t fall our way.”
In the final 15 minutes, Georgetown pressed the Spartans and was able to create runs down the sidelines through junior defender Dylan Nealis and Lochner, but again could not get any shots on frame until Dodson’s shot in the 85th minute got passed Hague, but bounced softly into the Spartan defense, which cleared the ball off the line. In the final seconds, McDonough took one final shot, but the ball went wide right, and Hague would hold his goal kick until time expired, sending his team to the Elite 8.
“Credit to them,” McDonough said of Michigan State’s defense. “They’re really good at blocking shots, putting their body in the way. They were compact, so whenever a team’s compact you have to find little passes to break through and we just couldn’t get it done.”
The loss caps an overall successful season for the Hoyas which saw big wins over No. 8 Duke and No. 17 Creighton, a second straight Big East Championship, and a 13-seed in the NCAA tournament.
“We got better over the run of the season,” Wiese said. “I thought we had a team that was a College Cup calibar team. Credit to our older guys, our seniors did a great job pushing through a long, hard season…all the credit to them they did a great job. I’m frustrated as hell that we’re not playing next weekend because I think we’re good enough to…but I’m really pleased with the group. It’s always sad when it ends, but it’s bittersweet, bittersweet.”
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