The No. 15 Georgetown women’s soccer team (4-2-1, Big East) prevailed in a memorable matchup against the Princeton Tigers (2-2-1 Ivy League) on Thursday afternoon at Shaw Field, winning 4-3 in sudden death overtime. The Hoyas’ goals were notched by senior defender Kelly Ann Livingstone, sophomore midfielder Devon Lis, sophomore defender Jenna Royson and graduate forward Amanda Carolan. In fact, Georgetown’s 13 goals this season have been scored by nine different players. Carolan leads the team with three goals on only six shots, giving her a 50 percent conversion rate. Princeton’s first two goals were both put away by freshman forward Grace Sherman, while senior defender Emily Hillard-Arce tallied their third goal.
On Thursday, the Hoyas lined up in the 4-3-3 formation, giving them a different look from their usual formation this season, the 3-5-2. The return of junior forward Jenna Menta, who was injured, is the main reason that head coach Dave Nolan has been able to switch back to the 4-3-3 formation which he exclusively utilized and had success with last season.
“It’s been something that has kind of been forced upon us because we don’t have enough healthy forwards. So the problem is if you only have three forwards that can play, if you play with all three of them at the same time, at some point, you hit a wall, and now if you have to take them off, you lose any impetus in the attacking half of the field,” said Nolan. “So we have been trying to play 2 but rotate three between Gia, Amanda, and Paula. But now having Menta back gives us another option, so now maybe we’ll be able to play three up top and rotate the fourth one through those spots.”
Menta has looked excellent since her return, and despite not getting on the scoresheet on Thursday, her contributions were crucial to the team’s victory. More on her later.
With the new formation in place, the Hoyas could keep more players upfield for counterattacks, but at the same time, the 4-3-3 meant they only had two central defenders which made them more vulnerable to crosses. The first goal of the game came in the 10th minute off a well-placed corner from sophomore winger Boo Jackson, which found Kelly Ann Livingstone who headed it over the keeper and into the back of the net.
Princeton equalized six minutes later with a cross that reached an unmarked Sherman, who had just made an excellent run towards the six-yard box and simply had to use her knee to redirect the ball on goal.
Despite the setback, the Hoyas continued to push forward. A pair of corners almost found Carolan and Nally. Then a Jenna Menta throw-in, reminiscent of Rory Delap on a cold, wet, windy night in Stoke, created confusion in the box and found the feet of Lis, who slotted it away for the first goal of her career.
Three minutes later, Carolan had a great chance to stretch the lead to two, but Princeton’s goalkeeper Natalie Grossie smothered her shot. The half ended 2-1 in favor of Georgetown.
Five minutes into the second half, Sherman equalized for the Tigers again. An unfortunate run of play left a few Hoyas out of position, and a lateral cross played softly on the ground made it through the Hoya defense and found the feet of Sherman who comfortably placed it in the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Princeton took the lead for the first time of the game. Junior defender Lucy Rickerson lobbed a freekick into the box, and Hillard-Arce got on the end of it, heading it into the bottom corner past Georgetown’s freshman keeper Anna Leat who was caught a bit out of position.
The Blue and Gray remained resilient in the face of defeat, as Nolan switched the formation back to a 3-5-2 to throw numbers forward. This switch paid off in the 77th minute when senior forward Paula Germino-Watnick took the ball down the right-wing, performed a Cruyff turn and played the ball to Royson, who in a 4-3-3 would not have been so high up the field. Royson ripped a first-time shot that was too powerful for the keeper to parry away.
The last fifteen minutes saw Menta send a barrage of long throw-ins into the box, including one that Livingstone headed off the post in the 88th minute. Her throw-ins allowed Georgetown to put pressure on Princeton and regain control of the momentum that had gone back and forth throughout the game. Regulation ended with the teams knotted at three.
The Hoyas came out with a purpose, and just 54 seconds into the first overtime, Jackson beat her defender, got to the byline and crossed it to senior midfielder Sarah Trissel who headed it towards the back post, and Carolan was there to tap it in for the game-winner.
This was Georgetown’s first overtime victory of the season and gives them momentum as they head into their Sunday afternoon matchup against No. 23 West Virginia (3-2-1, Big 12). West Virginia is currently 2-0-1 against ranked teams, and this matchup will be another opportunity for the Hoyas to establish their identity for the rest of the season. The game is set for 1:00pm ET on Sunday at Shaw Field. Live stats and a stream are available at guhoyas.com. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for updates and game recaps throughout the women’s soccer season, as well as coverage of the rest of the school sports throughout the year.