The No. 16 Georgetown men’s soccer team (6-2-2, 2-0 Big East) played only one game this weekend, defeating No. 20 Xavier (7-3-0, 1-1 Big East) 1-0 with an overtime goal by senior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry on Saturday evening. To those watching, however, it must have seemed as though the two teams played three different games.
The first half belonged to Georgetown. The Hoyas faced little resistance in the midfield, passing the ball at will. The Musketeers, meanwhile, were unable to create any sustained offensive pressure, relying instead on counterattacks to long passes. The box score reflected this, with Georgetown outshooting Xavier 8-3 and forcing Musketeer redshirt senior goalkeeper Dallas Jaye to make four saves in the half.
The teams flipped the script in the second half. Xavier pressed higher up the field in an attempt to prevent Georgetown from holding the ball for long stretches of time. The tactic worked, pinning Georgetown into its own half for much of the remainder of regulation. It had to defend for most of the half and resorted to clearances and long balls in order to relieve pressure in front of freshman goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski. Marcinkowski saved the game in the 63rd minute, recovering to make a leaping save after a deflection nearly left him out of position.
“Xavier came out much more aggressively. … Conversely, we were tentative and slow moving the ball. We were trying to force passes into areas and never really did pressure when we had [the ball]. The second half was played much more on their terms,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.
Against the run of play, the Hoyas had the biggest chance and closest miss of the half. In the 82nd minute, sophomore forward Declan McCabe, who entered the game as a substitute for senior forward Brandon Allen, received a cross from the right side and had an open look at goal. McCabe attempted to direct his header to the left of the keeper, but the ball hit the inside of the post and rolled across the face of goal without crossing the line. It was the closest either team would come to scoring in regulation.
“I think [McCabe’s shot] actually hit the other post and somehow didn’t go in. So even if we weren’t playing well, we actually still generated a couple very good chances to maybe win the game,” Wiese said.
After enduring a difficult and unlucky half, the Hoyas could have very easily entered the break before overtime with low morale. Instead, the team remained focused on finding a way to win.
“There was a nice calmness to the boys between the end of regulation and overtime,” Wiese said. “They came off with a general belief that they were going to find a way to win.”
That confidence was evident as soon as overtime kicked off. The Hoyas had three shots and forced a save in less than six minutes of play. Georgetown’s advantage culminated in the game-winner.
The Musketeers earned a free kick in the 95th minute and committed men forward to take advantage of the opportunity. Georgetown blocked the kick, however, and surged forward to take advantage of the exposed Xavier defense. The defense closed down Allen at the top of the 18, but not before he was able to lay off the ball to his right, where a charging Rosenberry buried a left-footed shot past Jaye.
“It was a senior’s goal. It was a captain’s goal. I told the team after the game, it was really what you needed somebody to step up for in that kind of a setting. Keegan did that tremendously,” Wiese said.
Georgetown improves to 2-0 in conference play with the win, putting the team at the top of the Big East along with Butler (6-0-3, 2-0 Big East) and undefeated No. 1 Creighton (10-0, 2-0 Big East). Butler will visit Shaw Field Saturday at 12 p.m. in what Wiese describes as one of the most important matches of the season so far.
“This is already a game against Butler that if you can find a way to get a win, it separates you from a lot of teams that are really in the mix,” Wiese said. “If we can start the season off getting a result against Butler … it is a wonderful separator for the league table.”
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