On Friday evening, the 3-seed Georgetown men’s soccer team (19-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) tied a program-record 19 wins in rainy Cary, North Carolina, defeating 7-seed Stanford (14-3-5, 6-2-2 PAC-12) 2-0 in the NCAA College Cup Semifinal. The Hoyas are headed to the College Cup Final for the first time since 2012, looking to return to the Hilltop with the College Cup for the first time in program history.
The Hoyas started off hot, with sophomore forward Zach Riviere firing a ball across the box in the fourth minute. Stanford freshman defender Keegan Tingey managed to get his head on the cross but his clearance barely made it out of the 18-yard box before sophomore midfielder Sean Zawadzki fired a volley past redshirt sophomore keeper Andrew Thomas to open the scoring.
Zawadzki told his teammates in the locker room after the game, “it’s probably the cleanest I have hit a ball. The opportunity doesn’t come often and you need to make the most of it.”
Head Coach Brian Wiese added, “it took a moment of brilliance from Sean to set the game in our favor, a 1-0 lead in those conditions is invaluable.”
After the Blue & Gray took the lead, both teams exchanged blows as play got chippy. The Cardinal and Hoyas combined for 15 fouls in the first half.
Georgetown started to pull away once again, as junior midfielder Jacob Montes’ second shot of the game flew wide. Two minutes later, senior forward Achara looked to extend GU’s lead but could not beat Thomas in goal.
Stanford did not create many chances in the first half. In the 21st minute, Stanford freshman forward Ousseni Bouda took the Cardinal’s only shot of the half but sent his effort wide of the net. As the half came to a close, the three-time national champions were awarded a corner but failed to create a chance.
The Blue & Gray took a 1-0 lead into halftime, dominating their opponents for the first 45 minutes.
“This is a game of moments. We have to be prepared to be able to score a second goal,” Wiese said after the half. During the halftime talk, Wiese emphasized, “the rain and the field being a little heavy,” warning the Hoyas’ “to be careful with the slow spots.”
A minute into the second half, Georgetown continued to put the pressure on Stanford’s backline. Freshman defender Daniel Wu fired a shot from the top of the box into the hands of Thomas. Two minutes later, Achara dribbled into the box, faking a shot, before sending a shot off the leg of a Stanford defender.
In the 55th minute, Stanford’s senior midfielder Jared Gilbey forced Hoyas’ sophomore goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis to make his only save of the game, parrying the shot wide for a corner. Gilbey’s shot was the Cardinal’s last shot of the game and the only attempt on target. The Cardinal continued to play through Bouda, who looked great on the ball, but was unable to break through GU’s defense.
Hoyas’ junior forward Derek Dodson brought down a perfectly placed chipped through ball five yards outside the box in the 65th minute. Breaking free past Stanford’s last defender, freshman defender Keegan Hughes, Dodson looked like he was going to give to the Hoyas a 2-0 lead. Before he could get into the box, Hughes made a last-ditch effort to dispossess Dodson but swept the GU attacker off his feet instead. The crowd was furious when Hughes was awarded a yellow card for what was clearly a red card worthy offense.
This did not deter the Hoyas, who extended their lead to 2-0 in the 67th minute. Sprinting down the right-wing, Zawadzki eluded six Cardinal defenders, breaking free at the edge of the 18-yard box. Zawadzki finished off an amazing run with a beautiful ball across the box that narrowly missed the diving head of Dodson, instead bouncing off a Stanford defender, before junior midfielder Foster McCune headed home the final goal of the game.
“It doesn’t have to be the prettiest goal, it just has to get the job done, and I think the boys would agree,” exclaimed Foster after the game.
Georgetown held on to win the game 2-0, with neither team taking a shot in the final 23 minutes. There was a noticeable change in play during the second half, as the referee began to lose control of the already chippy game. Stanford fouled Georgetown 15 times during the half, which equaled the combined total for the two teams in the first 45 minutes of play. This resulted in both teams picking up two yellow cards in the second half and GU’s Nikopolidis having to step between junior defender Rio Hope-Gund and a Stanford attacker after Hope-Gund was pushed after a play.
The Hoyas will stay in Cary to take on 1-seed Virginia (21-1-1, 6-1-1 ACC) on Sunday. The Hoos defeated 4-seed Wake Forest (16-5-2, 6-2 ACC) 2-0 in the second semi-final on Friday.
Virginia took an early lead in the 19th minute. Sophomore forward Daryl Dike finished an amazing long ball with a thunderous strike into the roof of the net from a near-impossible angle. Dike added his second of the game four minutes later. Guarded in front of the Demon Deacons’ goalie, Dike broke free and headed the game-winning goal into the net.
The Demon Deacons fought back into the game after senior Bruno Lapa cut the Hoos’ lead in half with his penalty kick goal. Redshirt junior goalie Colin Shutler saved a would-be equalizing shot for the Deacons with a diving save in the 89th minute.
Georgetown is 1-1-3 against Virginia all-time, picking up results in their last two meetings. The Hoyas will have their hands full as the Hoos look to secure their seventh national championship in program history. Virginia holds multiple national leading stats, including the lowest goals-against average, highest save percentage, and the most shutouts.
Wiese is not worried about the team’s mentality, stating that the team “is more disciplined than in 2012” when the Hoyas lost in the National Championship to Indiana. “We’re thrilled to play another round of soccer and we’re ready to go.”
Sunday’s College Cup Final will be an all hands-on deck contest between two of the country’s strongest teams.