Entering Wednesday’s home match, the No. 25 Georgetown (4-2-2) men’s soccer team had a dismal 1-28-1 all-time record against No. 11 Maryland (3-2-3). The history between the teams could only be described as lopsided. That record has now slightly improved to 2-28-1 as sophomore midfielder Arun Basuljevic and junior forward Alex Muyl led the Hoyas to a 2-1 win.
The teams played each other to a stalemate in the first half, which ended scoreless. The two sides combined for a mere 12 shots in the first 45 minutes, only three of which were on frame. Muyl had the best chance for either side when he attempted to chip the ball over the opposing keeper in a one-on-one situation in the 12th minute.
For most of the half, however, Maryland stifled Georgetown’s methodical, precise style of play. The Hoyas instead resorted to a more direct game, full of long passes and quick attacks on goal.
“They just made it hard,” Basuljevic said. “They made it really hard on our outside backs and they were pressing us high. First half, credit to them, they made it really hard, and we didn’t deal with it as well as we maybe should have.”
The goals that finally arrived for both teams in the second half came off counterattacks rather than intricate, build-up play. Georgetown started the second 45 minutes off on the right foot, possessing the ball for longer and holding it in dangerous positions.
In the 53rd minute, senior forward Brandon Allen received the ball on the break and played a deft back-heel pass to Basuljevic. The sophomore midfielder then saw Muyl out wide to the right and quickly played the ball in behind the defense. Muyl took the ball into the box and chose to go low and to the left of the keeper, putting the Hoyas in front 1-0.
“I thought it was a terrific individual performance by Muyl. He was fabulous today. His goal was terrific. Very composed. It was a classic counterattack that I thought we ran really, really well. About as good as it gets,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.
That lead would only last until the 69th minute, when Maryland freshman forward Sebastian Elney found himself in the box with only junior defender and co-captain Joshua Yaro and freshman goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski to beat. Yaro thought he held off Elney long enough for Marcinkowski to charge in and prevent a scoring opportunity, but the keeper could not get a firm handle on the ball. Instead, Elney had a wide-open net and easily tied the match at 1-1.
That is how the score would remain until Yaro led a counterattack after a Maryland free kick. Yaro dished the ball off to Allen, but a Maryland defender blocked the forward’s shot. Fortunately for the Hoyas, the deflection fell to Muyl, who easily found Basuljevic making a run into the box. The midfielder buried his chance in the back of the net and put Georgetown ahead for good.
“It’s just something I have been working on in my game, making late runs into the box,” Basuljevic said. “I saw the space and went forward and hoped he would give it to me. Luckily [Muyl] saw me and played me a great ball.”
The Maryland match represents the end of Georgetown’s nonconference schedule. Those eight matches featured a pair of disappointing losses, a pair of draws that easily could have been wins and a pair of victories over elite opponents. In their last five matches, the Hoyas are 4-0-1.
“We would like to be 8-0, but it is not realistic with the schedule. The progression of the season is something where you’re saying, ‘We’re evolving a little bit. We’re getting better. We’re learning some lessons,’” Wiese said.
The wins over UCLA (2-4) and Maryland stand out as the most promising victories in the first portion of Georgetown’s schedule. UCLA was the top-ranked team in the nation when it visited Shaw Field, and Maryland is a top team in its own right.
“It seems that when we play the big teams, we play better. I don’t know what it is. We have a lot of great players, just like all these programs. It’s a testament to the coaches. … We have a great team, we believe in ourselves and we think we can match up with anyone on any given day,” Basuljevic said.
Georgetown will return to Shaw Field on Saturday to take on conference foe Providence (4-2-1). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
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