The No. 3 Georgetown men’s soccer team recovered from a slow start to win the Big East Championship Final over Providence 3-1 at Shaw Field. On a brisk Sunday afternoon, the Hoyas showed poise after conceding an early goal, putting three past Friars senior keeper Austin Aviza in the second half. Senior defender Dylan Nealis, sophomore midfielder Sean Zawadzki, freshman midfielder Dante Polvara, and senior forward Jack Beer, who scored the game-winning free kick, were named to the All-Tournament team after the game.
“It never gets old,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said after winning the Big East Tournament for a third-straight time and fourth overall. “I get a little emotional because every time you come through and you win one of these things, there are certain people who really do something above and beyond. We had a lot of those guys today.”
Georgetown (15-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) had the first significant chance of the game in the second minute, off of a dangerous, curling free kick from junior midfielder Jacob Montes, but Providence (14-6-0, 6-3-0 Big East) was the more aggressive side early on. In the 12th minute, freshman midfielder Esben Wolf, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, nearly found his target with a cross towards the middle, but the Hoyas were able to scramble it away.
Two minutes later though, the Friars’ assertiveness would pay off. Senior defender Joao Serrano began the move by sending Wolf towards the left side of Georgetown’s box with a through ball, before Wolf tapped over to senior midfielder Tiago Mendonca, who aimed for the far post, curling it into the back of the net.
After conceding, Georgetown dialed up the pressure and created several opportunities before halftime. In the 23rd minute, a long shot effort from Zawadzki went just over the top-left frame of the goal. Then, in the 27th minute, a low cross from Polvara came to Nealis, but his low shot went just wide left. Polvara and Nealis again had opportunities before the intermission, but nothing came of them.
“It was one of the poorest first halves we’ve had and a lot of that is credit to Providence,” Wiese said. “We knew how good Providence could be. We came out a little tentative and a little flat and they came out aggressive and deservedly up by one.”
Early in the second half, the Hoyas continued to appear the aggressors, controlling possession and eventually finding the game-tying goal. Montes received the ball on the left flank, dribbled past one man, and then got taken down inside the box for a penalty. Polvara stepped up to take it and sent Aviza the wrong direction, slotting the ball into the right side of the net.
“There’s nothing like being down 1-0 in a Big East final to see what you’re made of,” Wiese said of his squad’s resolve in the face of adversity.
Over the next quarter-hour, Wiese made a series of substitutions, including bringing on Beer to replace senior forward Achara, who limped off the field in the 61st minute with an apparent leg injury. In the 64th minute, Mendonca nearly put the Friars back on top, getting on the end of a long, lofted pass into Georgetown’s box, but GU sophomore keeper Giannis Nikopolidis made a nice stop on his volley attempt.
In the 73rd minute, Georgetown’s continuous pressure generated another set-piece opportunity as sophomore midfielder Zach Riviere was fouled just a yard outside of the box. Beer took the free kick, and placed it perfectly into the bottom right corner, as the ball deflected off the post and into the back of the net.
“It was pretty central, close to the goal, so I thought I could go keeper side,” Beer said of his free kick postgame. “I figured I’d just hit it as hard as I could, as accurate as I could, and hopefully it went in and that’s exactly what it did.”
Just a minute later, the Hoyas scored again as the Friar defense began to unravel. This time, Beer found freshman forward Will Sands down the left side, who crossed it over to junior forward Derek Dodson wide open in the middle. Dodson took the shot first time, dinking it past Aviza for a two-goal advantage, all but guaranteeing the silverware.
Over the final quarter-hour, Providence created a few opportunities to score, but nothing that seriously threatened Nikopolidis’ net. The Hoyas held on to celebrate a third-straight title.
“It means everything to the senior class,” Nealis said after the game. “Our freshman year we obviously didn’t win it, we didn’t even make the tournament, and then we went three years in a row, winning the whole thing. It means everything to us.”
The Hoyas now await their seeding in the NCAA Tournament, where they will likely be in the top four, securing home-field advantage all the way through to the College Cup. Their next game will be at Shaw Field next Sunday. For live stats and coverage, go to guhoyas.com. For continued coverage of all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.