Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore back Jeff Curtin and the Hoya defense held the weekend’s opponents to one goal. Here Curtin, named to the All-Tournament team, soars above a Howard defender.

Most Georgetown students take for granted their superiority over other Washington, D.C. schools, but it never hurts to have a small reminder every once in a while. The sight of Georgetown’s men’s soccer team, crowding around the polished silver trophy of the D.C. College Cup might not have signaled the entire university’s preeminence, but it certainly marked a period of ascendance for the soccer squad. After downing Howard University 4-0 on Friday, the team fought defending title-holder American University to a 1-1 tie on Sunday to steal away the hardware and finish off its season’s first weekend in full stride.

The D.C. College Cup began in 2000, replacing the Hoya Classic and pairing four local soccer teams (George Washington fills out the quartet) with a different university playing host each year. This year, the Cup’s fate was decided on North Kehoe Field here, bringing a mixture of Hoya soccer fans and their cross-town equivalents. George Washington and American played the opening game, with American topping its opponent 3-0. After the game’s completion, Georgetown stepped on the field to open its season on an extremely hot and humid afternoon.

“I think the team’s starting to come together. Last year we had a number of players, not just freshmen, but sophomore and juniors, too, who hadn’t seen field time before this tournament, so we’ve matured,” junior co-captain and back Dan Gargan said.

The Hoyas struck early on offense, setting the pace of the game and keeping the ball near the Bison’s goal. Freshman forward Ricky Schramm notched his first career goal in the 15th minute after Gargan shot the ball over to sophomore defenseman Jeff Curtin, who knocked it across the goal to Schramm, who was wide open. The team lit up the scoreboard only five minutes later when Gargan blew off two defenders and send the ball past the goalkeeper to put Georgetown ahead 2-0. Curtin netted the third goal of the half when a Howard player fouled Schramm inside the box to set up a penalty kick in the 27th minute. Thus the Hoyas left the field at halftime in a comfortable position.

Howard returned in the second half to launch an offensive that sent the ball near the Hoya’s goal, but Georgetown’s defense, led by Gargan and Curtin, helped stave off any serious threats. The teams stepped up the physicality, leading to two yellow cards issued to Howard players and a total of 19 fouls committed by both teams. The only successful offensive attempt took place when Schramm broke away to send another ball sailing into the back of the net with 17:30 left to play. The Hoyas finished the game with an impressive 4-0 shutout that set the tone for the weekend.

“It was a tough day today with the heat and everything, but we kept a pretty good focus. To score four goals in any game is awesome, and it’s good for our confidence,” head coach Keith Tabatznik said. “We got a lot of good work from a lot of players.”

Georgetown returned to the field on Sun. in order to take on American, which blew the Hoyas off the field last year in a 4-0 rout. In this revenge match, the Hoyas took on the Eagles with strong, tactful play. The home team struck out early, sending the ball deep into enemy territory, but it was unable to cobble together a successful attack on the opposing goal. American struggled early to string passes together, and the Georgetown defense quickly unraveled it opponent’s offensive plans.

“The whole team was excited to be on the field for the game. It’s not like we forgot what happened last year,” Gargan said.

Soon, though, American launched a counter-attack and put pressure on the hosts. The Hoyas kept the Eagles at bay until halfway through the first half, when an American forward’s shot bounced back from the goal and junior forward Peter Philipakos emerged from the ensuing melee around the goal to flick the ball past senior goalkeeper Tim Hogan. Although both teams had opportunities around the net during the rest of the first half, but neither side could capitalize on them and the score remained 1-0 at the end of the half.

“We started off the game excellently, and it meant a lot to have confidence coming in here as opposed to a year ago. We knew it was going to be an even game,” Tabatznik said.

Back for another 45 minutes, both teams resumed a high level of play and a lot of contact. Only a little over seven minutes had passed before Georgetown leveled the score when Gargan passed the ball to sophomore back Dan Pydo, who tapped the ball over to Schramm. The freshman forward blasted the ball beyond the reach of the diving goalkeeper, and the game was tied.

For the next 38 minutes, both teams battled for an edge but neither made any headway. As the teams became more tired, the number of fouls increased, bringing added drama from the game. The Hoyas fortunes seemed to reverse when Pydo received a red card with four minutes left in the game after becoming entangled with the goalkeeper on an offensive play. With one man down, Georgetown managed to hold off American and force the overtime.

“That unlucky red card forced us back and made the forwards shift their mentality from building up an attack to just pressuring them upfront and trying to make them lose balls,” Schramm said.

A man short through both overtimes, the Hoyas scaled back on offense to protect their goal. The Eagles put their rivals to the test, moving the ball around the box, but the defense and Hogan foiled the ambitions of any attacking forward. The game ambled on toward its conclusion as Georgetown held firm against American, and both sides had to settle for a stalemate. This left the Hoyas to claim the College Cup, having scored five goals in the tournament, compared to the Eagles’ four.

“It was a great effort to come back with a man down and hold on to the game. It was tremendous,” Tabatznik said.

The team received accolades for their success on top of its shiny trophy, including All-Tournament team recognition for Curtin, Schramm and Hogan. Gargan received the tournament MVP award for his hard work up and down the field.

For the first time since its beginning, Georgetown won the Cup, and the team’s hopes that the lessons learned here and the toil on the field will pay off when the Hoyas battle opponents from outside the Beltway. The team travels for the first time this season to take on Boston and Indiana universities in Storrs, Conn. as the University of Connecticut hosts a tournament next weekend.

“Only giving up one goal in these two games and scoring four goals in our first game will give us a mental boost going into next weekend. We saw some great action in this tournament which will help us take on some good teams in a few days,” Tabatznik said.

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