The 3-seed Georgetown men’s soccer team recovered from an early Washington goal to win their NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals matchup 2-1 Saturday afternoon at Shaw Field. The Hoyas trailed for over an hour in a physical battle with the 6-seed Huskies that saw seven players pick up yellow cards, but the Blue & Gray found the back of the net twice in quick succession in the second half. With the win, Georgetown (18-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) secured a perfect home record on the season and now moves on to face 7-seed Stanford, who has won three of the last four tournaments, in the College Cup Semifinals.
“This game really put us out of our comfort zone, but they still found a way to get through it,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said after the game. “The ability to find a way to come back from being down bodes really well for the character of the team.”
The Huskies (17-4-0, 8-2-0 PAC-12) took control of the game early on and grabbed the lead just three minutes in on a brilliant goal from senior midfielder Jaret Townsend. He received the ball on the right side of Georgetown’s box and dribbled towards the center, doing well to hold off Hoyas sophomore midfielder Sean Zawadzki. When Townsend reached the top of the box and no Georgetown player stepped in front of him, he ripped a left-footed effort towards the top-left corner. The ball was perfectly placed, well out of reach for freshman keeper Tomas Romero.
After the goal, the Hoyas looked to quickly eliminate the deficit, relying on long balls, but were unable to put together significant chances.
“I told the guys, you have to win the first 10 minutes and we lost the first 10 minutes badly,” Wiese said. “Scoreline aside, they were doing what they wanted to do. We weren’t able to get a foothold in the game until maybe the 30-minute mark.”
After a half-hour of play, the Hoyas began to take the upper hand, gaining possession and creating a number of opportunities in the waning minutes of the first half. In the 33rd minute, a long free kick from junior forward Jack Beer found its target in freshman midfielder Dante Polvara, but his header lacked the power to seriously challenge Huskies freshman keeper Sam Fowler. Over the final eight minutes before the break, Beer, senior defender Dylan Nealis, and sophomore midfielder Zach Riviere all got off shots, but could not find the goal.
Early in the second half, the game picked up in physicality, as the teams combined for 11 fouls in the first 15 minutes. The fouls did not create major opportunities though, and neither team had any real chances until the 59th minute when sophomore forward Gio Miglietti fired away from the left side of Georgetown’s box, but a confident save from Romero prevented him from doubling the lead.
Over the next ten minutes, the Huskies came close to increasing the margin twice more, as sophomore midfielder Lucas Meek and junior midfielder Blake Bodily both misfired from deep in Georgetown territory.
“I think you have to give a ton of credit to Washington,” Wiese said of the PAC-12 champions. “They’re a really hard team to play against. They’re really well-coached, really disciplined, tough, they’re good in the air. They’ve got some scary players going forward.”
In the 72nd minute, the physical play finally worked to Georgetown’s advantage as junior midfielder Jacob Montes was brought down seven yards outside Washington’s box. Montes stepped up to take the free kick and curled it perfectly into the top-right corner for the equalizing goal.
“I just had to put it on target really,” Montes said postgame. “Right when I hit it, I knew it was going in. It was such a great feeling when I heard the crowd. The goal was a confidence booster for the team because we came out of it just rolling.”
With the momentum swinging in their favor, the Hoyas kept the pressure on and scored another goal just five minutes later. Junior forward Derek Dodson got on the ball just past the center circle and made a long run towards the box past multiple Husky defenders. Dodson eventually got enough space to take a low right-footed shot across the face of goal. Fowler was able to get his glove to the ball, but it was not enough as the ball trickled into the bottom left corner.
“I got a good first touch with my left that carried me into a lot of open space, so I just kept driving,” Dodson said. “Zach [Riviere] made a run that took his man across the box, so I just opened up for the shot. I wanted to keep it hard and low to the far post and it went in.”
After Georgetown went ahead 2-1, Washington pushed hard for an equalizer over the final 15 minutes, but the Hoya defense stood tall. In the 89th minute, the Huskies had their closest opportunity, as a well-placed ball into the box found Migliette, but his header went just wide left.
“We weren’t going to give up anything after we scored that second goal,” Nealis said of the team’s defensive resolve. “We would have laid our bodies on the line to block anything.”
The Hoyas now look ahead to Stanford (14-2-5, 6-2-2 PAC-12) who they play in next Friday’s Semifinals in Cary, NC.
“This was our goal from the beginning to get to the College Cup for an opportunity to win the whole thing,” Dodson said. “We just keep checking boxes, so hopefully we can check another one on Friday.”