The Georgetown women’s soccer team went to Storrs, Conn., on Saturday night to kill another giant. After knocking seven-time defending conference champion Notre Dame out of a chance to repeat earlier in the season, Georgetown had an even tougher task.

The Hoyas played their second Big East tournament game in school history on the road, falling 1-0 to top-seeded Connecticut Huskies. UConn is ranked ninth in the nation and boasts a 16-2-1 overall record and is 6-0 in the Big East.

“We were definitely up for this game and prepared, but we were beaten by a

better team on this day,” Head Coach Diane Drake said.

The first half enabled Georgetown to size up the best of the Big East. The Hoyas were not shy about pushing the ball in counterattack situations to gain an early advantage. This aggressiveness, fueled by sophomore midfielder Nicole DePalma’s passing and junior forward Jessie Beers-Altman’s speed and skill in the goal box, made the Hoyas the top offensive team during the Big East regular season.

The team brought this offensive power to the first round game. The Hoyas did not bring the opportunistic good fortune that they needed to convert tougher shots against a strong Connecticut defense among the Big East leaders in goals against average.

“The first half went really well. We were really up for the game,” senior midfielder Casey Hoffman said.

The squad’s confidence was by no means shattered by the scoreless first half. The team was not happy just to prevent the Huskies from scoring. The team was nevertheless dissatisfied with its inability to score.

“We did not really generate a whole lot in the final third of the field. We struggled connecting the final pass, more due to respect of the opposition and nerves than ability,” Drake said.

Rather, the Hoyas gained confidence from the pressure that they were able to put on Huskie senior keeper Maria Yatrakis.

“We were excited at the half. We really thought that we could play with Connecticut,” Hoffman said.

Huskie sophomore defender Zahra Jalalian dramatically decreased the Hoyas’ level of excitation only three minutes and 49 seconds into the second half. Jalalian caught the Hoya defense off guard and snuck down the sideline. Before the Hoyas could recover, she sent a slow ball into the net and Georgetown was down a goal.

“UConn made some changes at halftime, specifically turning up the pressure on us and moving an outside back into the midfield. Four minutes into the second half she scored the game winner. We could not neutralize her attack from the right side,” Drake said.

“We were out of position and she capitalized on that,” Hoffman said.

Connecticut’s ability to score first and make take the Hoyas out of their game plan was more important than the score itself. This Georgetown team scores quite a few goals. The squad, however, is not adept or experienced this season at coming back from scoring deficits.

“A little bit of panic set in for us. They started to get a lot more scoring opportunities,” Hoffman said.

The Hoyas earned seven of their 11 wins by shutout this season. Of the four remaining wins, only one was a come-from-behind victory. Georgetown stood down a goal to the Fighting Irish at two points during that upset victory. The Hoyas knew that they would need a similar effort to come back against the Huskies.

The Hoyas, however, seemed to tighten up as the game wore on. As Georgetown fell back, Connecticut confidently pressed its advantage. The Hoyas only managed one shot to the Huskies’ 12 in the second 45 minutes of play. The Huskies had two shots hit the goalpost, denying them a larger advantage.

Connecticut’s aggressive play characterized how the team has played all season. The Huskies have considerable practice protecting a lead while maintaining hunger for insurance goals. The Hoyas had to come back against a team that had not surrendered a lead since Sept. 6.

As the Huskies pressed and forced Hoya junior keeper Alexis George to make five more of her 10 saves on the game, Georgetown players began to doubt themselves.

“We started to realize that our season might be over,” Hoffman said.

The fate of the Hoyas’ season is solely dependent on the decision of the NCAA tournament selection committee. The committee knows the Hoyas’ resume: An 11-7 record with seven shutout victories, the most potent offense in the Big East and the ability to compete with top-10 teams.

“We practice this week and we find out about the tournament on Sunday. We just have to sit back and watch. I really hope we go to NCAAs,” Hoffman said.

Many of her teammates have the same hope. The importance of being the first squad in school history to make the tourney is not lost on any member of the team, especially the seniors.

“We had two major goals for this season. We made the first tournament, now we need to make the second,” Hoffman said.

“I could make myself crazy trying to put a matrix together, but the truth is our destiny lies in one committee, and hopefully they see we are playing well, had a few significant results and really no bad losses. When I look across the country at similar teams in our situation, I feel we have the edge in common opponents. We will keep our fingers crossed until Monday.

The tournament selection show will air live on ESPNews. The selection begins at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11.

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