MEN’S SOCCER Hoyas Beat Defending NCAA Champ Huskies Victory Vaults GU Into Big East Contention By Chris Cariello Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Senior Kenny Owens, shown in early season action, helped lead GU over UConn 1-0.

The Georgetown men’s soccer team’s victory on Saturday against the defending National Champion Connecticut Huskies puts them one step closer to making the NCAA Tournament. The 1-0 win on Harbin Field thrusts the Hoyas into Big East contention, moving them within three points of the crowded top of the standings. The Hoyas are now 6-6-1 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

“The win Saturday showed what we are capable of when we have a collective team effort that stays focused for the whole game,” said Head Coach Keith Tabatznik.

The Hoyas pressured the Huskies’ defense and controlled the ball well. Georgetown outshot UConn five to two in the first half. Nonetheless, Husky senior goalkeeper Bryheem Hancock, despite making no saves, frustrated the Hoyas by repeatedly turning away crosses and corner kicks.

Encouraged by their first half performance, the Hoyas came out of the half-time break firing. Just one minute into the second half, senior midfielder Andy Sole drew a foul and restarted quickly to senior forward Nate Port, who dribbled 18 yards out to lace a shot past Hancock for a 1-0 lead. Port has scored in three straight games as well as four of the last five.

“Andy really began to pick it up in the second half and the quick restart to Nate on the goal was a very alert play,” said Tabatznik.

For the next 10 minutes the Hoyas continued their pressure, twice narrowly missing an opportunity to take a commanding 2-0 lead. The offensive-minded Huskies, who Tabatznik called “maybe the most skillful team around,” appeared shaken up and frustrated by Georgetown’s ball control and rowdy faithful fans, the largest of the season to date.

Connecticut began to send extra men into the attack at that point, taking four shots and earning several chances from then until the end of the game. Its best chance occurred when junior forward Damani Ralph intercepted a botched Georgetown goal kick, controlled the ball, and blasted a shot off the right post. Georgetown withstood a late threat by the Huskies, including one in which UConn sent all 11 of their players forward for a corner kick.

“Sometimes getting the breaks is a product of hard work. We had lost a lead late in the past two games so the guys really concentrated hard on holding their lead. I think we would have won in overtime anyway, but it is good to get some breaks after the tough loss to Rutgers,” Tabatznik said.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Hoyas’ game on Saturday was their resolve in sticking to their game plan. The Hoyas maintained possession and attacked the Huskies aggressively in a game in which they outshot their opponents 7-6. Also important was the midfield defense that won the ball and kept the pressure off the backline. Junior goalkeeper Brian O’Hagan played another outstanding game, forced only to make two saves.

“In training this week we worked on a couple of things and we were able to do all of them on Saturday. The biggest key was to keep possession and force them to play defense. When we were in the offensive end we attacked with speed. We also won the ball in the right places which is what we need to do,” Tabatznik said.

The Hoyas’ aggressive style of play hurt the finesse-oriented Huskies in a game that saw five yellow cards. The win was crucial to keeping the Hoyas in the thick of things in the Big East. Their next game is against Navy tonight in Annapolis, d.

“The conference is all over the place right now,” Tabatznik said. “We could finish in the top four or even out of the top eight which would leave us out of the conference tournament. I’ll tell you one thing though, if we have the conference on our mind during the Navy game, we probably won’t be happy after the game.”

Team Schedules/Rosters 2001 Men’s Soccer Schedule | Roster

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