They hit the crossbar, kicked it wide or just watched as the ball sailed past the goal mouth.

No matter how many chances the players on the Georgetown men’s soccer team had to grab their sixth straight win, it was not enough.

The Hoyas endured a lapse in play during the first half that allowed the Villanova Wildcats (6-3-4, 4-2-2 Big East) to sneak in and score the goals that lifted them to a 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon on North Kehoe Field.

Despite holding a clear advantage on offense for most of the game, Georgetown could not convert its opportunities and fell to 8-6-0 for the season, 4-3-0 in the Big East.

“We were obviously very unlucky. But our backs were against the wall because from the time we scored our first goal to the end of the first half, we didn’t play anymore,” Head Coach Keith Tabatznik said. “They started winning every second ball. Prior to that, we were all over them in the beginning of the game. We scored the goal then let down.”

In the opening minutes of the game, the Hoyas looked prepared to roll to their sixth consecutive win. On a blustery but mostly sunny afternoon, Georgetown opened the game with a strong attack and pressed its advantage over Villanova hard.

The early strike yielded a quick goal as the Hoyas lit up the scoreboard in the eighth minute. Senior midfielder Dan Gargan grabbed the assist with a well-placed cross to junior defender Jeff Curtin, who headed the ball past the goalkeeper.

After taking the lead, Georgetown slowed down and took the edge off its offense. Villanova gradually picked up momentum, keeping the ball in its opponent’s third of the field. The Wildcats also gained the edge on loose balls and second chances.

The Wildcats’ increased fierceness paid dividends in the 26th minute. Junior midfielder Brett Stassfurth launched a cross into the box and the ball became lost amid the tangle of players. Junior forward Charlie Rowan emerged from the group to knock in a point-blank shot.

Villanova had enough steam to put up a go-ahead goal before the first half ended. At the end of the 40th minute, the Wildcats struck again when junior midfielder Patrick Gallagher headed in the ball off teammate senior midfielder Jonathan Lopuski’s free kick.

“I think that they’re big and they’re strong and they’re dangerous on restarts and I don’t think we had enough tenacity inside the box. We didn’t want the ball enough,” Gargan said.

The Hoyas stepped up their game in the second half, trying to erase a 2-1 deficit. Villanova dropped back to a more defensive style, and Georgetown kept its opponent to one save on the half. Even with all the offensive pressure and the opportunities it created, the home team failed to connect for another goal.

Plenty of chances came and went, spelling out a frustrating half for the players and their supporters in the stands. Shots sailed wide or glanced off the posts. On at least two occasions, the ball flew in bounds after a corner kick or throw-in and landed on the far side of the goal where there was no one on offense to make the play. Eventually the Hoyas ran out of time and openings and finally surrendered to Villanova 2-1.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to will yourself to win. I think a couple of plays didn’t quite work out,” Gargan said. “The way we were playing in the second half, you got to keep fighting and I don’t think all 11 of us were fighting for it. You’ve got to get tough in there, and we didn’t do it.”

Georgetown held a lopsided statistical advantage with 26 shots to its opponent’s five. The Hoyas put Wildcat junior goalkeeper Craig Bald to work as he made 12 saves on the afternoon to Hoya sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Keszler’s two.

The large numbers, however, were irrelevant to Georgetown after the team could not capitalize on its efforts.

Georgetown falls to fifth in the latest Big East standings and sits in a tie with Seton Hall, their final conference opponent. Before the two teams meet, the Hoyas have matchups against Pittsburgh on Wednesday in their last away game and then Boston College on Saturday.

The team should be hopeful against Pittsburgh (3-5-3, 1-3-1) because it has already defeated four of five bottom teams in the Big East. But with losses to three of the top four teams in the conference, the Hoyas know they will need to step up against the Boston College Eagles (9-3-0, 5-3-0).

“They’re going to be tough games. Pitt’s on the road, so that’s going to be hard. In Big East games, you go to fight for them and we got to do a better job if we want to win,” Gargan said.

Kickoff against Pittsburgh is scheduled for tomorrow at 7 p.m. on Founders Field.

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