In a game with just a handful of opportunities, West Virginia took theirs, while Georgetown could not, and now a Hoyas season that began with so much promise has ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore forward Alina Stahl scored a brace in the first half while the WVU backline maintained a clean sheet, which proved to be enough for the Mountaineers to advance to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
Earlier in the season, the No. 25 Hoyas (13-5-3, 6-1-2 Big East) comfortably defeated the Mountaineers (11-7-2, 5-3-1 Big 12) 3-0 at home. Much has changed since that early-season matchup, however, as sophomore defenders Charlie Kern and Boo Jackson’s injuries forced Head Coach Dave Nolan to move freshman midfielder Julia Leas into the backline. Leas scored and assisted in the regular-season matchup between the two teams, so losing her production in the attack made Georgetown’s task that much more difficult.
After a scramble in the box in the thirteenth minute, Stahl got her foot to the ball first, putting it into the back of the net to give West Virginia the 1-0 lead. Georgetown knew they would need more from their attack to progress.
The Blue & Gray responded well, and it seemed only a matter of time until they scored. Georgetown’s best chance of the half when senior forward Casey Richards served the ball on a platter to graduate student forward Amanda Carolan, but Carolan mishit her shot, sending it wide.
Rather than building up slowly and pinning West Virginia in their own half, the Hoyas kept searching for that perfect through ball, fatiguing the Georgetown wingers quickly, and resulting in numerous offsides calls and careless turnovers. One such turnover in the 50th minute left Georgetown vulnerable in defense. The Mountaineers combined nicely to set up Stahl who finished again, putting her team up 2-0 going into halftime.
In the second half, Nolan moved Leas to an attacking position to liven up the attack and give the Blue & Gray a different look. Leas was instrumental in the creation of several chances, but as the game went on, it seemed like it was just not going to be Georgetown’s day.
The Blue & Gray really began to pick up the pace in the last ten minutes, as their desperation grew. Carolan and Leas each got their head on the end of a cross, but senior goalkeeper Rylee Foster made two fantastic goal-line saves. Richards and senior forward Paula Germino-Watnick both had shots from dangerous positions blocked, and freshman forward Sofie Fox nearly got on the end of a cross that could have brought the Hoyas within one. In the end, however, the Hoyas failed to capitalize and were shutout by Foster, who had seven saves on the day.
Georgetown will be disappointed with a first-round exit, having made the College Cup in two of the previous three seasons. However, the team has a lot to be proud of. The senior class became the winningest class in history after notching their 12th victory of the season against St. John’s, and the Hoyas earned numerous individual accolades. Germino-Watnick earned the Big East Midfielder of the Year award, and for the second year in a row, senior defender Meaghan Nally was recognized as the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
In the offseason, Georgetown will rebuild their attack once again, as they are losing their top two scorers in Carolan and Germino-Watnick. Hopefully, the five recently committed recruits will help boost the personnel and add a fresh look to the team.