The No. 12 Georgetown women’s soccer team (7-2-1, 1-0-0 Big East) put on a classy display Sunday afternoon at Shaw Field, taking down Marquette (3-7-0, 0-1-0 Big East) 3-0 in their first conference test of the season. The win puts the Hoyas’ margin of victory at 13-0 over their last three games, marking a dominant stretch after an up-and-down beginning of the season. Freshman midfielder Julia Leas opened the scoring in the 16th minute, and graduate student forward Amanda Carolan finished off the Golden Eagles with a second-half brace.
“You really do have to separate your non-conference schedule and your conference schedule because the conference games just have a little bit more,” Georgetown head coach Dave Nolan said of the match’s importance afterwards. “Each game is almost like a four-point game. When you’ve got games at home, you’ve got to take care of business and I thought we did a good job of that.”
Senior forward Paula Germino-Watnick powered the Georgetown attack from the opening kickoff and had three shots within the first 15 minutes of action. But it was Leas who got the Hoya scoring started. She received the ball about 35 yards out, took a touch, and launched a shot that seemed to take a massive deflection off the defender bearing down on her. The ball soared high into the air and looped over the outstretched arms of Marquette senior keeper Maddy Henry for a 1-0 Hoya lead.
Georgetown kept the pressure on, outshooting Marquette 8-2 in the first half, but the Golden Eagles had a close chance to tie the game in the 25th minute. Off of a Hoya corner kick, the Golden Eagles broke the other way and after a series of passes, sophomore midfielder Alyssa Bombacino got in behind the Georgetown defense. Her low shot got past Georgetown freshman keeper Anna Leat’s right side, but senior defender Meaghan Nally was there to make a heroic goal line clearance. After the match, Nolan praised last year’s Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
“Meaghan Nally at the back, she’s got to be the best defender in the country,” Nolan said. “She’s a 10 out of 10 every practice, every game. I thought she was great.”
Georgetown dominated possession for the remainder of the half and had their opportunities, notably off dangerous crosses from sophomore midfielder Caitlin Moon who had come on as a sub, but GU could not find the back of the net again before the intermission.
Coming out of the break, the Hoyas kept their foot on the gas and were rewarded just three minutes in. Sophomore forward Boo Jackson used her body to keep the defender off the ball down the left flank and found enough space to direct a cross towards the front of the goal. Carolan, the team’s leading scorer on the season, was perfectly positioned, sticking her leg out and getting a foot on the ball to tap it past Henry into the back of the net.
The Hoyas continued to control possession, and got off 12 shots to the Golden Eagles’ three in the second half. They were especially commanding in the midfield as Marquette struggled to get a touch on the ball defensively and offensively failed to string many passes together.
“[Senior midfielders] Carson Nizialek and Sarah Trissel in the middle of the park set the tone for us,” Nolan said postgame. “I felt they won most of the battles in the middle of the park against a pretty aggressive Marquette team.”
In the 73rd minute, the Golden Eagles were able to slip through the cracks of the resolute Georgetown backline for a pair of chances. Sophomore midfielder Rachel Johnson and junior defender Mary Kate Simon each had one-on-one looks against Leat, but their shots were weak, and the freshman keeper was able to escape with the ball secured both times.
Four minutes later, the Hoyas had a chance to seal the game. After a scramble for the ball in the box, Trissel connected and shot towards the top of the goal, but Henry made an excellent save to keep her team in the match. However, in the 82nd minute, Georgetown would not be denied. The Hoyas were looking for an open look in a crowded Marquette box and after a series of blocks and deflections, the ball eventually rebounded to Carolan who slotted home her seventh goal of the season. After that point, it was smooth sailing for the Hoyas, who locked up a third straight clean sheet.
“Defensively, we didn’t give them much,” Nolan said of his improved backline “I challenged the kids earlier this year because we were giving up too many goals. Last year, we had given up 10 goals in 25 games and this year, we’d already given up 10 goals in seven games. I said, ‘Here’s our target: We want to get our goals against average below one and right now it’s above one.’ So the challenge was to get that number down, and we’ve had three shutouts in a row. On Thursday, the Hoyas travel up to Villanova (5-3-2, 1-0-0 Big East) to battle their rivals. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. A live stream and stats can be found at guhoyas.com. For continued coverage of all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.
Image Credits: John Picker/The Georgetown Voice