“This one definitely hurts,” senior captain and defender Mark Zeman said.

That’s one way to understate the Hoyas’ gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of the Fighting Irish on Wednesday.

Georgetown (8-6-1, 5-4 Big East) fell to Notre Dame (8-6-1, 6-3 Big East) at home this week in a match that will greatly affect the Blue and Gray’s standing in the Big East. The Hoyas dominated play

but left North Kehoe Field with nothing but a missed opportunity and a three-game losing streak.

“I’m proud of the performance,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said after the game. “But at the end of the day, no one’s going to look back and say, `Hey, that Notre Dame game, you played great, so let’s give you some extra bonus points for that.’ It’s the score line that makes the difference. I think we let three points slip away today, to be honest. It’s frustrating for us.”

The two squads entered the game tied for third place in the Big East’s Blue Division, two points behind second-place West Virginia and four points behind first-place Connecticut. The winner would remain in the hunt for a top-two finish in the division and a guaranteed first-round bye in the Big East tournament; the loser would fall into fourth place and need some luck – as well as wins in its final two conference games – to accomplish that same goal.

In the early moments of the first half, possession and scoring chances were distributed evenly between the two squads. Georgetown had several attempts from varying distances, including a bullet from junior forward Chandler Diggs inside the box that was parried away for a corner by Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Andrew Quinn.

uch of the Hoyas’ offensive attack went through Diggs’ partner up top, fellow junior forward Jose Colchao, who wreaked havoc on the Fighting Irish’s back line all game.

“That’s his strength,” Zeman said. “He’s a pain in the butt for defenders. They have a hard time dealing with him.”

Despite Georgetown’s impressive play in the attacking third of the field, it was Notre Dame that drew first blood. With the visitors’ only shot on goal of the entire first half, senior midfielder Michael Thomas redirected a free kick from about 35 yards out past junior goalkeeper Matthew Brutto into the side netting, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute.

The Hoyas maintained their intensity and looked for an equalizer before halftime. Junior midfielder Seth C’deBaca almost found it in the closing seconds of the stanza when he fired a shot low and to the left from 12 yards out, but Quinn preserved the Notre Dame lead with another quality save. At the break, Georgetown had five shots on goal to Notre Dame’s one, but trailed by a goal.

In the second half, the Hoyas came out firing on all cylinders. Only three minutes in, senior midfielder Scott Larrabee swung a perfectly placed cross into the box. Colchao lunged and headed it forward, prompting an anticipatory gasp from the crowd, but the ball was deflected by Quinn, careened off the crossbar and was cleared by the Notre Dame defense. A minute later, C’deBaca one-timed a back pass from senior defender Len Coleman, but the shot sailed high and over the bar.

In the 51st minute, Georgetown finally found its tying goal. Freshman midfielder Jimmy Nealis hit a cross from the left side into Larrabee in the middle, and this time the Hoyas’ final touch was true as the senior’s first goal of the season trickled past Quinn and over the goal line.

Wiese praised the young Nealis’ overall performance on Wednesday.

“He was terrific,” Wiese said. “When he’s on, he’s as good as any wide player in the country, I feel. He can beat guys, pass guys; he’s two-footed and he hits great crosses. He’s still maturing a little bit, but we put him on the field for a reason – he causes problems. He’s going to be a terrific, terrific player as he gets really comfortable with the college game.”

After Larrabee’s goal, the Hoyas continued to dominate the Fighting Irish in terms of possession, passing and ball control, but other than a blast from Nealis in the 70th minute, Quinn went untested for the remainder of play.

Toward the end of the half, it became clear that the intensity of the match was taking its toll on Georgetown. Several Hoyas – Colchao and Nealis in particular – were plagued by muscle fatigue and cramping, forcing substitutions late in the game.

“I think a lot of it has to do with guys balancing [soccer with] midterms and academics,” Zeman said after the match. “I think a lot of people didn’t get enough fluids in them.”

Wiese echoed the captain’s sentiment and attributed his players’ stamina issues in part to an increased workload.

“You’re not able to prepare the same way you are at the beginning of the season,” he said. “Right now, at a place like Georgetown, midterms and papers can start weighing on you . but at the end of the day, the guys have to be able to handle the rigors of being a student-athlete. It’s about time management [and] being professional.”

The Fighting Irish took advantage of the Hoyas’ tired legs in the final 15 minutes of the second half and created two of their best opportunities of the game. Senior forward Bright Dike, Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer, found himself one-on-one with Brutto on two separate occasions but was stuffed both times.

“He’s a big boy,” Zeman said of the 6-foot-1, 223-pound Oklahoma native. “He’s tough to handle, but I think we did a good job on him. He’s a handful.”

Georgetown was able to keep Dike scoreless, but he had a crucial impact on the game when he collided with Brutto on the second of his one-on-one chances. The Hoyas’ keeper came up hobbling afterward and was removed from the game at the start of overtime.

“There’s a good chance [Brutto] sprained his knee and that he may be out for a while,” Wiese said immediately after the game. “I thought he played great. He made two really big saves and took some crosses well. . He did what he had to do to get us a win.”

Fellow junior keeper [Mark Wilber](http://www.thehoya.com/sports/man-between-posts-brings-big-save-ability-hoyas/), however, was unavailable, still sidelined after suffering a concussion against the University of Maryland last week. (Wiese expects him back when the Hoyas travel to West Virginia on Saturday.) These injuries to the pair of junior goalkeepers forced the Hoyas to turn to unseasoned sophomore Erik Garciamendez, who logged his first college minutes on Wednesday.

Worn down after dominating nearly all of regulation, Georgetown’s midfield and defense began to open up and present gaps for Notre Dame in overtime. The Irish almost ended the match in the 93rd minute, but the Hoyas temporarily escaped disaster when a header beat Garciamendez but hit the crossbar.

In the 97th minute, however, Notre Dame junior defender Bilal Duckett dribbled into open space and ripped an inside-out rocket toward the top right corner. With the setting sun in his eyes, Garciamendez was unable to keep the ball out of the net as it deflected off his gloves and in, giving Notre Dame the 2-1 victory.

“It’s one he’ll think he could have saved,” Wiese said afterward. “He has to take it and become better for it. It’s a difficult situation for a goalkeeper to go in for overtime where it’s one mistake and you walk off. You don’t have any room for error.”

In the meantime, the Hoyas must find a way to cope with a demoralizing loss.

“It stings a lot,” Wiese said. “I’m a little stunned. . No disrespect to Notre Dame, but I thought we outplayed them. I thought we played them off the park for 90 minutes.”

C’deBaca agreed with his coach’s assessment and recognized that the better team doesn’t always win.

“They got the result, so I applaud them,” he said. “But I still think we were better.”

Wiese made it clear that while he is disappointed about Wednesday’s result, it is time to move on.

“There’s nothing you can do about this game now,” he said. “We have to quickly turn around and focus on West Virginia, at West Virginia. They’re a very talented team and they’re on a roll. . Going to their place and winning is really tough.”

As for the losing streak, Wiese acknowledges it as a test of the team’s confidence but remains self-assured about the Hoyas’ abilities to win on the big stage.

“That’s three losses in a row, and they’ve all been hard games,” he said. “Not a lot of teams are going to take results from that [schedule]. I think we feel we should have won all three, but we ended up losing all three. The challenge for us now is keeping the guys on course and getting some healthy bodies back. I still feel this is a special team. If we get our guys back on, I fancy us against anybody.” “

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