Charles Nailen/The Hoya Senior forward Nate Port prepares to strike the ball seconds before scoring one of his two goals in the contest.

The Georgetown men’s soccer team played its best game of the season Tuesday, posting a 5-2 victory against St. Peter’s at home on Harbin Field.

The Hoyas, playing a coherent, confident brand of soccer, scored the first five goals of the match as they dominated play and climbed back to the .500 mark with a record of 2-2-1. The dominant performance marks the first decisive win of the season for the Hoyas who played well during their pre-season non-conference schedule, but have nonetheless only won one of their past four games.

“This was our most complete game of the season,” Georgetown head coach Keith Tabatznik said of his team’s performance.

The Hoyas controlled play from the opening kickoff, scoring the opening goal nine minutes in when junior Tony Soric, in his first game back from injury, collected a pass played over the St. Peter’s defense and struck the ball past keeper Michael Sylvia. Senior Nate Port completed a deft give-and-go with front line mate freshman Kaiser Chowdhry in the 36th minute giving Port his first of two goals in the game and Georgetown a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the half. The Hoyas out-shot St. Peter’s 12-1 in a first half controlled by the Georgetown midfield unit. That unit continually won balls in the midfield, beginning an often-dangerous offensive run for the Hoyas.

Georgetown wasted no time in extending its lead as senior captain Kenny Owens used his considerable size and speed to finish off a pass from freshman Dan Gargan. Showing its ability to play with the lead, Georgetown continued to possess the ball far more effectively than their opponents, passing precisely and winning the ball on the ground and in the air with authority. This dominance was in large part due to senior Truls Engebretsen, who, in the 63rd minute, blasted a rocket past Sylvia from 25 yards out on a ball that bounced his way after a scramble in the 18-yard box. The assist was credited to sophomore Joseph Paden.

Engebretsen celebrated the remarkable goal, his first on the season, by bending down on one knee and pumping his fist as his teammates surrounded him to rejoice in their insurmountable 4-0 lead.

Nate Port scored his second goal of the match, capping the Hoyas’ scoring in the 75th minute. St. Peter’s Mario Olarte scored two essentially meaningless goals, spoiling the Hoyas’ defensive shutout in the final 15 minutes.

While the offense and defense were impressive in their performance, it was undoubtedly the midfield unit of Engebretsen, Gargan, freshman Trevor Goodrich and sophomore Carl Skanderup that led the Hoyas to victory.

“While the backline was effective. Our defensive performance is much better when we win the ball in the midfield,” Tabatznik said.

The Hoyas’ performance in the defensive midfield was due in no small part to Engebretsen, who “played his best game of the season” according to Tabatznik. Engebretsen’s ubiquitous presence did not go unnoticed, as he seemed always available to receive a pass or thwart an opposing attack.

Georgetown was able to hold St. Peter’s to one shot and virtually no scoring chances. Starting goalkeeper junior Brian O’Hagan only had to make one save in 69 minutes and substitute Tim Hogan was similarly untested. Even when the ball did enter the Georgetown defensive third, the defense was able to calmly clear the ball up the field. Senior fullback Michael Gross was particularly effective in rendering St. Peter’s attack on his side of the field virtually impotent.

Offensively, Tuesday’s game was a vast improvement over the previous four.

“We really worked hard on getting the ball to the outside and stretching the field,” said Tabatznik.

This tactic was evident as the Hoyas passed the ball through the midfield and then ran overlapping runs, most of which were rewarded with passes and scoring opportunities. All-conference candidate Owens was a particularly large problem for the St. Peter’s defense, as they never seemed to find a way to stop him. Owens’ control, size and touch were often met with a foul as the St. Peter’s defense could find no other answer for his presence.

Tabatznik indicated that Owens’ status as a proven scorer is a handful for other teams. “He always draws the other team’s best defender and that frees up opportunities for the rest of the team,” he said.

Owens continually received passes and turned at will, maneuvering between defenders and serving up feeds to his teammates.

Perhaps the dramatic improvement of the team was due in part to the senior leadership that has emerged from Owens and Engebretsen. Tabatznik commented that all leadership becomes very important going into Big East play, especially with such a strong freshman class.

“It’s good to have guys who have been there before who can help the younger guys thrive in pressure situations,” he said.

On another note, Tabatznik touched on the healing power of sports in times of hardship. In the still-dark shadow of the tragedy of Sept. 11, the Hoyas had their “best practices of the season.” The field seemed to be a place of solace for the soccer team as it was able to refocus for its best showing of the season.

Georgetown will need similar performances in the future as their Big East conference schedule kicks off Saturday Sept. 22, against perennial powerhouse and No. 2-ranked St. John’s in Jamaica, N.Y.

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

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.