The Hilltop has a team it can look to as its “comeback kids,” and that team is men’s soccer.

Trailing 1-0 with less than 15 minutes remaining, the Hoyas roared back on Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va., to steal three points from the West Virginia Mountaineers in another pivotal Big East match-up, notching two goals in the final minutes – one while down a man – to win 2-1.

The victory marked the Hoyas’ second dramatic comeback on the road this month following their 2-1 defeat of the Seton Hall Pirates in South Orange, N.J., on Oct. 7. The Hoyas also scored two goals in the final 15 minutes of that match after falling behind early.

“The thing that’s special about this game is that [we were] on the road against a team that hadn’t lost in nine games,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “We just found a way to win.”

The Hoyas sat in fourth place in the Big East’s Blue Division behind the third-place Mountaineers going into the game, still hopeful that they could catch both the Mountaineers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to finish in second place and guarantee themselves a bye in the first round of the Big East tournament.

As the match got underway, Georgetown found three clean shots and looked primed to score the first goal. West Virginia, however, responded quickly and soon took over the offensive momentum.

In the 26th minute, a pair of freshman Mountaineer forwards connected when Abel Sebele floated a cross to Uwem Etuk. Etuk was able to nod the ball over junior goalkeeper Mark Wilber and into the net, but not without controversy. The Georgetown defensive line and bench erupted in protest, claiming Etuk was offsides on the cross, but the goal stood. After reviewing tape a few days later, Wiese acknowledged that the forward was onside.

“It was a good goal,” Wiese said. “The linesman got it right.”

Down by a goal, the Hoyas continued to struggle in the shots department for the remainder of the half. At the break, the Mountaineers had outshot the Hoyas 9-3 and held the visitors to only one corner kick.

“West Virginia is a hard team,” Wiese said. “They don’t concede goals at all. . Losing the first goal was a problem. We knew we would be in for an uphill battle.”

In the second stanza, the Blue and Gray’s offense remained stifled early on. It wasn’t until the 77th minute that the Hoyas were finally able to break through when junior midfielder Seth C’deBaca played junior forward Chandler Diggs through down the right sideline.

Diggs controlled the ball and went at his defender one-on-one, dribbling straight for the goal line. When he reached the corner of the six-yard box, Diggs laced a low, right-footed shot across the frame of the goal and under the outstretched arm of junior goalkeeper Zach Johnson – tie game.

“I really had no business shooting it,” Diggs said later on. “But I’m glad it went in.”

Georgetown had another brilliant scoring opportunity just a minute later, and Diggs was almost able to put the Hoyas ahead. Junior forward Jose Colchao raced down the left flank, dribbled into the box and swept a pass across the box for Diggs, but the junior was unable to reach out and touch the ball into the empty net.

In the closing moments, more drama ensued. Junior midfielder Rob Burnett was ejected in the 86th minute for an elbow to the head during a defensive challenge, but Wiese denied that Burnett had any malicious intent on the play.

“It was a difficult game to referee,” Wiese said. “Anytime [West Virginia] felt there was going to be contact, they went down and rolled and yelled, and the referee was blowing the whistle on it.”

The red card left the Hoyas with only 10 players and four minutes left in regulation, but that turned out to be plenty of time and manpower.

“Them going up a man was an opportunity,” Wiese said. “It spread them out and created more chances for us.”

The first of those chances was the only one Georgetown needed. In the 87th minute, Colchao again attacked the West Virginia back four. Pausing, the forward lifted a magnificent through ball over the last defender and on to senior midfielder Scott Larrabee.

“Jose was able to get free from his defender and run at the defense,” Larrabee said. “I saw the opportunity to break the through ball, and Jose played it well.”

After heading the ball down to his feet, Larrabee fired a shot across his body, past Johnson and into the side netting to put the Hoyas on top.

“Possibly one of the best goals of the year,” Wiese said. “Just a terrific goal.”

Larrabee has tallied his first two scores of the year in the Hoyas’ last two games; his goal against Notre Dame on Wednesday tied that match at the time, and on Saturday his strike put the Blue and Gray ahead.

“I’m in a position where I need to be scoring goals,” Larrabee said. “It’s good to get them in crucial games.”

The Hoyas were able to fend off the Mountaineers in the final three minutes and secured their sixth conference win of the season. The victory put Georgetown in third place in the Blue Division with one league game to play, just one point ahead of West Virginia.

“We had some guys who made some plays,” Wiese said. “Chandler [Diggs] and Jose [Colchao] were both pretty prominent figures in both goals. I think the two of them are really starting to find a rhythm as a pair now, which is great to see.”

The Hoyas finish off the regular season this week with two home games. On Saturday, Georgetown hosts Providence in the Big East finale, but first the Blue and Gray welcome cross-town rival American University to North Kehoe Field on Wednesday in a non-conference game that will have a strong bearing on their strength of schedule when it comes time for postseason bids.

Georgetown will be without three of its key starters, however, as Burnett and senior defender Len Coleman must sit out the match because of red and yellow card accumulations, while freshman midfielder Ian Christianson continues to nurse a sprained knee.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Diggs said. “We definitely need to win this one to help us get into the NCAA tournament.” “

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