The Georgetown women’s soccer team could not have asked for a better result in closing out the regular season at Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Coming off wins over Big East opponents Seton Hall and West Virginia over the weekend, the Hoyas (9-8-1, 5-4-1 Big East) extended their win streak to a season-high four games with a 4-0 shutout of the Panthers (6-10-1, 2-7-1 Big East) in their season finale.

Georgetown entered the game knowing how important this result was for the future – a win would clinch a fifth-seed in the conference tournament, while a loss would drop them to seventh.

That thought motivated the team, which put together one of its strongest performances of the year at exactly the right time.

“The girls were really focused, and they understood what was on the line,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said.

From the opening kickoff, it was clear which team wanted it more. The Hoyas came out hungry, got on the board in the fifth minute and never looked back.

Captain senior midfielder Nicole DePalma scored the Hoyas’ first goal on a cross from freshman midfielder Sara Jordan, her team-leading eighth of the year.

But DePalma was not finished with her scoring in a Hoya uniform, notching another goal in the 19th minute on a header past Panther junior goalkeeper Jamie Pelusi.

Her nine regular-season goals puts her second on Georgetown’s all-time single season goals list behind only graduate Jessie Beers-Altman (COL ’04), who had 10 in 2002.

DePalma, who is this week’s Big East offensive player of the week and the ECAC’s co-player of the week, is also first in career assists at Georgetown with 24, second in career points with 64, third in single-season points with 22 and fourth in career goals with 21.

The Hoyas tallied another goal before halftime, a close range shot by Jordan on a cross by sophomore midfielder Chrissy Skogen, which effectively iced the victory.

Georgetown added another goal for good measure with 12 minutes remaining in the second half, a score by captain senior forward Casey McCann with an assist by Jordan. The goal was McCann’s fifth of the season, and the assist was Jordan’s sixth.

Freshman goalkeeper Jade Higgins notched her sixth shutout of the year, making three saves en route to the 4-0 win. Overall, the Hoyas outshot the Panthers 10-5, with both teams committing 12 fouls.

“Our last three games gave us confidence,” Nolan said. “We believed we could play with anybody, and we did.”

The Hoyas were once again playing with a short roster, missing key players due to injuries. Captain senior fullback Elizabeth Roberti was out for the third straight game after going down in the second half of the Hoyas’ win over the Liberty Flames.

Junior forward Shara McNeill was limited to only 30 minutes of playing time due to an ankle injury she sustained in the same victory over the Flames.

McCann, junior defender Alexandra Hardy and Skogen, who are all nursing injuries as well, all saw limited playing time against the Panthers. Roberti is still questionable for Sunday’s game, but the others are expected to play.

Despite injuries to McCann and Roberti, the anchors of the offense and defense, respectively, Nolan was pleased with performances of the team on both sides of the ball.

“We are much tighter in the back,” he said, “and we don’t have just one goal scorer. Our goals come from all over the field. This was our third shutout in our last three Big East games . We are just more secure in back.”

With the win, the Hoyas secured a fifth-place finish in the Big East, Georgetown’s highest-ever finish in the conference. With that seeding, the Hoyas will face the fourth-place Boston College Eagles in the first round of the tournament, which will take place in Boston on Sunday afternoon.

“For us to finish fifth was huge,” Nolan said.

According to Nolan, playing nationally-ranked No. 22 Boston College (13-5-0, 7-3-0 Big East) is the best possible tournament matchup for Georgetown.

Boston College has not seen Georgetown in 2004. No. 24 Connecticut and No. 25 West Virginia have both seen Georgetown already this year. West Virginia would be looking for revenge after last week’s 1-0 upset.

“[Boston College] might look past us a little bit, just remembering the last time they played us they handled us,” Nolan said. “We are an unknown commodity to them.”

The Hoyas last faced the Eagles in September 2003, when Boston College defeated Georgetown 3-1 in the Hoya Classic. Last season Boston College was the runner-up in the Big East tournament, losing the conference championship game to Villanova on penalty kicks.

Boston College earned a berth in the NCAA tournament, but lost in the first round to Central Connecticut. Georgetown failed to qualify for postseason play in 2003.

While the Hoyas have qualified for the Big East tournament, Georgetown is not content with just an appearance – the women want to make a statement.

If the Hoyas can upset the Eagles in the first round and either the first-seed No. 1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the eighth-seed St. John’s Red Storm in the semifinals, they could be in contention for an NCAA tournament berth.

“We need to beat Boston College and then beat whoever we face in the semifinals,” Nolan said. “If we can do that I believe we will be in consideration [for the NCAA tournament] . We will have a legitimate chance. I told the girls we are two games away from the NCAAs.”

The Hoyas will take on the Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff at the Newton Campus Field is set for 1 p.m.

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