Coming off a 1-0 victory in the Round of 32 against West Virginia (14-7, 5-1 MAC), the 13th-seed Georgetown men’s soccer team (13-4-3, 6-2-1 Big East) will take on Michigan State (12-4-4, 4-2-2 Big Ten) in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament. The match is scheduled to kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET at Shaw Field and can be streamed through GUHoyas.com.
The Hoyas held possession for long periods against the Mountaineers on Sunday, but needed a late goal from Big East Defensive Player of the Year, junior Dylan Nealis, to prevail. His deflected goal in the 87th minute sent Georgetown through to the Round of 16 for the sixth time in program history and the first time since 2015. That 2015 squad fell to Boston College in the Round of 16 on penalties after two periods of extra time.
Michigan State defeated fourth-seed Louisville (11-5-3, 4-2-2 ACC) last Sunday in overtime, 2-1. With the win, the Spartans advanced to the Round of 16 for the second straight year in the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Damon Rensing. Last season, the Spartans’ run ended in the Elite 8, losing on penalty kicks to conference rival Indiana.
Michigan State’s team has been strong across the board, with All-Big Ten honorees at all four levels of the pitch. Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Giuseppe Barone leads the way, notching 16 points on the season with 10 assists and three goals. A pair of All-Big Ten Second Team selections, senior forwards Dejuan Jones and Ryan Sierakowski, have headed the attack with 11 goals and 10 assists between them.
Georgetown’s defense will be worthy opposition for the Spartans. The backline, led by Nealis and Brendan McDonough, an All-Big East Second Team selection, has been stifling all season, allowing just 14 goals, including only four in their last 11 games. The Hoyas will have to stay alert the whole game against the Spartans, who have been a second half team all year. 22 of their 32 goals have been scored in the second halves of games.
On the other side of the field, junior forward Achara and sophomore forward Derek Dodson have been the Hoyas’ top attacking threats this season, and each was named to the All-Big East First Team. The duo has combined for 16 goals on the season, but just two in their last five games. Michigan State’s defense, led by All-Big Ten First team selection, redshirt sophomore Patrick Nielsen, has been solid all year, with just 16 goals allowed.
The Hoyas are 2-1 all time against the Spartans, losing their last battle in the same stage of the 2013 tournament.
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