Until the 64th minute of its game against Providence (4-3-1, 0-1-0 Big East), the No. 25 Georgetown men’s soccer team (5-2-2, 1-0-0 Big East) had done everything right — with the exception of putting the ball in the back of the net. Nearly 20 minutes into the second half, junior forward Brett Campbell collected the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and found space to his left to finally fire a perfectly placed, curling shot to the top left corner of the goal. That piece of individual effort put Georgetown over the top in its 1-0 win over Providence on Saturday afternoon.
Georgetown entered its first conference game of the season in good form. Prior to Saturday afternoon’s home match against Providence, the Hoyas had won two straight games, including one against No. 11 University of Maryland (3-2-2, 0-0-2 Big Ten). The team had also not lost a game in its last five matches.
That run, however, took its toll on the team. Georgetown’s meeting with Providence was its fourth game in 10 days, and one of those matches had gone into double overtime. The rapid string of games meant that Head Coach Brian Wiese and his staff could not prepare the team for each individual opponent and had to rest the players instead of conducting full practices.
“All you’ve been able to do is play a game and get ready for the next one, without any time to really recover, without any time to really look at the other team. We’ve relied on our ability to just to be who we are and say ‘Let’s see if we can manage it,’” Wiese said.
That strategy worked Saturday, as the Hoyas controlled possession and the pace of the game for much of the first half. That possession translated into a few half-chances, but the Georgetown attack could not manage many clear-cut opportunities to score in the first 45 minutes.
Providence, meanwhile, grew frustrated as it was forced onto the back foot to defend throughout the half. The Friars managed just one shot in the half, which Georgetown freshman goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski watched sail harmlessly wide of the goal. Senior defender and co-captain Cole Seiler, along with fellow co-captain and junior defender Joshua Yaro, played a major role in Saturday’s defensive success, breaking numerous Providence attacks and organizing the back line.
“It started from the forwards maintaining pressure on their center backs and not letting them pick their heads up,” Seiler said. “I felt like Yaro and I … were both full energy and in step and not letting them get good looks at the ball.”
The defense’s only lapses came in the first five minutes of the second half, when Providence had its best run of play of the day. The Friars forced Marcinkowski, who was named the Big East Rookie of the Week after the game, to make an acrobatic double-save to preserve the tie less than two minutes after the second kickoff.
After seeing that danger out, the Hoyas returned to controlling the match. Their breakthrough came when a deft series of short passes between junior forward Alex Muyl and senior forward Brandon Allen created space for Campbell to score the only goal of the match, which Wiese called a world-class finish.
Saturday’s shutout was Georgetown’s first since the opening match of the season. It was also one of the few low-scoring contests the Hoyas have played this season, but the team expected a close contest against a familiar conference opponent. Muyl, the Big East Offensive Player of the Week, attributes the win in part to the team’s mental discipline in what could have been a very frustrating match.
“They put a lot of guys behind the ball and they counter really quickly,” Muyl said. “We knew it was going to be frustrating to play against. … We all did a good job keeping our heads. Groups in the past, it has gotten to us, and that is when they hurt us.”
The win extends the Hoyas’ winning streak to three games. The team now has several much-deserved days off before travelling to Cincinnati to take on Xavier (7-2, 1-0 Big East) and attempting to extend that streak to four. Georgetown defeated Xavier 1-0 in last year’s regular season before falling to the Musketeers in the Big East tournament.
“Now we have to go on to Xavier, who is always hard to beat, especially at their place. It will be a good test, and I think we’ll use this momentum to help us out,” Seiler said.
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