Charles Nailen/The Hoya Despite an 11-7 overall record, the Hoyas were not selected for an at-large bid.

The Georgetown women’s soccer team came to McDonough Gymnasium yesterday for its last and shortest meeting of the season. The Hoyas sat in a team room glued to ESPNews. Georgetown watched the names of 10 teams it played and four teams it beat announced among this year’s field for the NCAA Tournament. What the Hoyas did not see was their own name.

Georgetown’s best season in school history was not enough to secure an at-large bid to what would be the program’s first NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas’ shared their fate with many teams around the nation.

“There are a lot of sad and surprised people around the country right now,” Head Coach Diane Drake said.

The team is certainly sad, but by no means surprised. The tournament field gives 29 automatic bids to conference champions. The remaining 35 bids are offered to the remaining 35 best teams in the nation. This is, however, not an ideal formula. The reality is that all games cannot be played in one part of the country and teams are restricted by region as a result.

“I expected this after what happened after this weekend. Far too many major upsets,” Drake said.

This year’s conference champions in many divisions were teams that did not have great success in the regular season. Richmond, Loyola, American and William & Mary were among the teams who earned their way into the tournament with an automatic bid out of a smaller conference.

“Trying to get in our conference is difficult because of all of the automatic bids,” Drake said. “As I saw the results go in I got more and more disappointed.”

The Northeast region filled up quickly with teams from smaller conferences, and few at large bids were available from the Northeast. This made the Hoyas entrance into the at-large field very doubtful.

Overall, 10 teams the Hoyas faced this season made the tourney. The Hoyas hold a 4-6 record against these teams. These teams only outscored Georgetown by a total of 16-15. One of the most surprising selections by the committee is the choice of Notre Dame.

“It is a little frustrating to see Notre Dame in the field,” junior midfielder Jen Choinere said.

The Irish were selected with an at-large bid this season. The Hoyas and Notre Dame each have an 11-7 overall record. Both teams have a 3-3 record in the Big East. The only time the two teams met this season, the Hoyas won 4-3.

“The strength of a few of their results got them to the tournament,” Drake said. “Especially their victory against Connecticut. They also have history and reputation on their side.”

The Irish are perennial NCAA contenders who have won the Big East tournament seven times in a row.

The Hoyas lost several major games this season that also hurt their chances of receiving a bid. Thus, their season comes to an end. Last season, the Hoyas capped off the year by winning the ECAC Tournament Title. They will not have a chance to defend that title though, as their participation in the Big East Tournament last week makes them ineligible to receive an ECAC bid. Missing the ECAC though, is not much of a disappointment compared to missing the NCAA Tournament.

“It was great to play in the postseason. We won the title, but I don’t think that it motivated us at all. Every team’s goal is to reach the NCAA Tournament,” senior defender Liza Yannuzzi said.

The Hoyas didn’t achieve that goal this year, but the team has little reason to hang its head about the season.

“We turned around a 1-3 start this year to nearly make the tournament. This disappointment gives us motivation to be more successful next year,” Choinere said.

The Hoyas also said they recognize that the progress they made this year will add to the achievement of Georgetown teams in future years. The seniors also have the experience of playing for the team as it rose in the rankings.

“The four years I spent playing soccer here were amazing. We had a major goal that we did not accomplish. I have all the faith in the world that we will make it next year,” Yannuzzi said.

The sting of the tournament rejection, however, is by no means lost on any of the players on this team.

“It is an awful feeling. You put all your hopes in something and then it does not work out,” freshman forward Shara McNeill said.

The Hoyas’ aim was never to sneak into the NCAA Tournament, but rather to belong there and compete consistently.

“We are not looking to build a one-year success story. We aim to establish a culture of and an expectation to win games here,” Drake said.

This building comes from the individual success of a number of strong players. Junior forward Jessie Beers-Altman and sophomore midfielder Nicole DePalma were awarded for their strong play this season with a place on the all Big East second team. Beers-Altman finished the season tied for third in the conference in scoring. DePalma made her presence known as the leading assist earner in the Big East.

Building a team also comes with the success of newcomers. cNeill earned the Hoyas a third player on the Big East All-Rookie team in four years.

“I am very happy with the award. At first I didn’t know how big it was, but now I’m very happy with it,” cNeill said.

Proof of Georgetown’s success is not hard to find. The team’s record and national RPI ranking has improved each of the last four years. This year’s ranking and record are the best in school history. The Hoyas will need to find a way to turn this disappointment into future success.

“Watching the selection show was a valuable experience for this team,” Drake said. “They will remember it.”

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