The Hoyas downed the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, No. 18 nationally, last Saturday with a 2-1 thrilling overtime victory to advance to the semifinals of the Big East tournament.

Played under the lights at Alumni Field in South Bend, Ind., in front of a crowd of 419, the men’s soccer team, seeded fifth in the conference tournament, faced Notre Dame, the fourth seed, for the second time in two weeks. Georgetown edged out their rivals 3-2 during the regular season after freshman back Jeff Curtin scored on a last-minute penalty kick.

Here the dynamics were different. First, the Hoyas lacked the home-field advantage and fans that helped them against the Fighting Irish before. Second, that was the regular season when a loss could damage a team but there were other games as well; here the road ended for the losers.

“I actually thought we played better in the game at home than we did in the Saturday’s game. When Notre Dame plays at home, they have a lot of enthusiasm and momentum. I think that was the biggest difference between the two games,” Head Coach Keith Tabatznik said.

Under this pressure Georgetown battled bravely against its opponents. Notre Dame held the offensive edge in the first half, but a tough Hoya defense repeatedly repelled the Irish. Eventually, though, senior forward Erich Braun of the Fighting Irish knocked in a pass from a teammate with less than four minutes remaining in the half.

The teams took the fields in the second half under a steady downpour. The Hoyas played with determination and attacked the Notre Dame defense. Their assault eventually yielded a benefit when sophomore midfielder Trevor Goodrich took a combination pass from freshmen forwards Benjamin Jefferson-Dow and Michael Banner and sent it from the 12 yards out into the goal in the 57th minute.

“When we got the goal back to equalize early in the second half, we had the better plays in the half up to that point,” Tabatznik said.

The game then settled into a stalemate where each teams’ defense kept the offenders from threatening the goal. The Hoyas felt a setback with less than four minutes remaining in the half when sophomore midfielder Kevin Sindelar received a red card. The Hoyas finished regulation time down a man and entered into overtime.

“I think the biggest key to this game was outstanding defending. We remained very focused in the game and made very, very few mistakes defensively. Our defense kept us in the game,” Tabatznik said.

Almost halfway through overtime, Georgetown junior back Carl Skanderup blasted the ball from 30 yards out past the goalkeeper into the right corner of the goal. The win evened the Hoyas record to 8-8-1. Notre Dame exits the tournament with an 11-5-3 record. While the Fighting Irish are out of the Big East tournament, they can probably console themselves with a berth in the NCAA College Cup. Georgetown fell to Notre Dame last year 1-0 in the quarterfinals, but has now avenged its lost.

Notre Dame dominated the statistics, outshooting the Hoyas 19-6. Georgetown junior goalkeeper Tim Hogan made five saves for the game while his counterpart had two. The Hoyas certainly played a more aggressive game than their challengers, committing 27 fouls to Notre Dame’s 10. The referees issued yellow cards to six Georgetown players and to two of the Fighting Irish.

With the victory, the Hoyas advance to the Big East semifinals where they will meet top-seeded Boston College, which defeated Providence 4-0 last Saturday. Connecticut and St. John’s, both ranked in the top 10, face off in the other semifinal. Both games take place next Saturday at Rutgers Soccer Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. Georgetown plays in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. The finals take place the next day.

The team will practice hard to prepare for Boston College, which captured the regular season Big East title. Boston College vanquished the Hoyas 3-1 in late September, but the team has progressed a long way from that game. While the competition may appear daunting, Georgetown looks forward to taking the field and tackling its opponents.

“Boston College has one of the best teams they’ve ever had. They present you with a physical challenge because they’re big and a soccer challenge because they play so well. It’s no fluke that they won the Big East,” Tabatznik said. “To beat them would show just how far we’ve come this season.”

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