RELATED LINKS-Men’s Soccer Has Faced 50 Years of Growing Pains on the Hilltop November 4, 2003

The surprisingly warm and sunny weather was a positive omen at the game’s outset, drawing over 1,100 fans to North Kehoe Field to pack the stands and watch the Hoyas’ final home game of the season.

The game started off slowly and steadily for Georgetown. “They are a young team, and we’re more experienced,” Hoya senior defender Carl Skanderup said. “Last year we were a bit afraid of them, but I don’t think that happened this year at all.”

The team controlled the pace of the game and came up with some chances on goal in the first 10 minutes. One shot was deflected above the goal by the goalie while another attempt, a shot from freshman defender Tim Convey from outside, just missed the goal, flying wide. While the Hoyas had the momentum, a sudden counterattack from the Huskies ended the home team’s early run.

“I thought we didn’t take advantage of the opening part of the game when Connecticut was flat,” head coach Keith Tabatznik said.

After only 12:17 had passed, Connecticut’s top two attackers, senior forward Cesar Cuellar and sophomore forward Steven Sealey brought the ball into Georgetown’s box. While Sealey booted a shot from the right corner, Hogan was able to bat it away from the goal. Cuellar came up with a header on the ball back over to Sealey, who put the ball into the back right corner while Hogan looked on, helpless to stop it.

After the goal, the drive stalled out for both teams and the remaining half hour passed relatively uneventfully as neither team seriously attacked its opponent’s goal.

“Connecticut was able to keep the tempo down. We wanted an up-tempo game, but we couldn’t get it until the second half,” Tabatznik said.

Going into the second half, Georgetown understood that the season was on the line. In a similar situation against Syracuse, down 1-0 at the half, the Hoyas rebounded well with four goals in the second period. Again, the team brought out a fierce attack while the animated crowd offered plenty of moral support.

“We needed a win or we wouldn’t make the Big East tournament. It was that simple: win or the season’s over. That was enough motivation,” Skanderup said

Most of the action took place around the Huskies’ goal as the Hoyas put all of their energy up front and their opponents dropped back to shore up the goal area. This resulted in a number of close chances for Georgetown, but Connecticut proved too solid in the crease to let the Hoyas find the back of the net.

“They packed it in pretty good. That makes it hard to score, especially from the outside since it gets deflected easily,” Skanderup said. “We weren’t getting enough balls in and we were in the right places, but we couldn’t figure out how to put one in the net.”

The Hoyas attempted to get the ball into the corner to set up a cross into the box, but each header or kick was either stopped by the goalkeeper, sophomore Andrew Scheurman, or was knocked out of bounds by a defender. With so many players bunched up around the goal, the game became more physical and three players were issued yellow cards during the half.

While Connecticut nearly sealed its victory with some close calls from Sealey throughout the half, Georgetown succeeded in keeping the ball downfield from its goal for a substantial part of the period. The pivotal moment of the game came on a corner kick play with 12:20 left. The ball flew into the middle of the box while several team members on both sides jumped for the header. In the maelstrom of leaping players, a Georgetown player was knocked down by a Connecticut defender. While the stands swelled with jeers and the Hoyas fumed, the official issued a penalty, setting up a penalty shot.

Sophomore defender Jeff Curtin jogged to the ball to take the shot. He had knocked in three penalty kicks earlier this season and helped the Hoyas top Notre Dame last year with a last-second penalty shot, exerting grace under pressure. While each spectator held his breath, Curtin fired the shot toward the right corner. Schuerman also dove right and grasped the ball as it rolled along the ground. While the Huskies all hunched over and sighed in relief, the Hoyas tried to quickly overcome their disappointment and regroup for another attack.

“We have to give Adam [Schuerman] credit for the game. We didn’t finish the game on offense, so it fell on Adam to get us the win,” Connecticut head coach Ray Reid said.

The team could not help from being shaken though, and nearly gave away the game five minutes later when Sealey ran down field with the ball, sending a shot into the back of the net. No sooner had he begun to celebrate that an official declared the goal void due to an offside call, bringing Georgetown quickly back into the game.

While in the beginning of the year, Tabatznik counseled that goals in the last 10 minutes would determine a game, at the very end of the season the Hoyas had a chance to take this advice to heart. Try as they might, the players could not penetrate the Huskies’ defense, and as the clock wound down, it became clearer that Georgetown would not salvage the contest. Before an appreciative crowd, the Hoyas took their cheerless final bows on a challenging season.

“It kind of all hit me at once, all four years. It’s sad, but it was a good time and I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Skanderup said. “It’s sad that we had to end it on a loss, but we just couldn’t get a couple breaks.”

While one game remains, a battle against Delaware on Tuesday night in Newark, Del., Georgetown lost its last-ditch bid for a conference tournament spot after failing to grab 12 points in the standings. The team stands at 7-9-2 for the season and 3-7-0 in the Big East. Connecticut moves up to 8-7-3 and 5-3-2 in the conference, garnering sixth place. While the Huskies will face Fighting Irish of Notre Dame next Sunday, the Hoyas will finish their season five days earlier.

The matchup marked the final contest on North Kehoe for three seniors: Hogan, Skanderup and midfielder David Eder. With their departure, Georgetown will field a new starting goalkeeper and a new starting defender.

Tuesday’s battle against the Blue Hens begins at 7 p.m. and will allow the Hoyas to take to the pitch in order to grab the season-ending victory that eluded them against the Huskies.

“We have to go in there like it’s any other game. There’s no reason why we can’t go in there and get a win,” Skanderup said.

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