Having already broken the Georgetown record for most wins in a season with 17 victories, the Georgetown women’s soccer team looks to further extend that mark in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday at Shaw Field against No. 22 Rutgers.
The Hoyas (17-2-3, 6-1-2 Big East) played the Scarlet Knights (12-4-6, 4-2-5 Big Ten) on Sept. 2, winning 2-1 behind an equalizing penalty and a strong individual effort in overtime from junior midfielder Rachel Corboz.
Georgetown impressed in its first-round match against St. Francis (10-12, 6-2 Northeast), totaling 24 shots to just two from the Red Flash, but largely lacked a finishing touch in the 2-0 victory.
Should the Hoyas advance past Rutgers, the winner of the game between defending champion Penn State (11-4-4, 7-1-3 Big 10) and No. 15 Virginia (14-4-2, 6-2-2 ACC) awaits Sunday in the third round. On Sept. 11, the Hoyas beat the Cavaliers 3-2 in a comeback victory.
Head Coach Dave Nolan downplayed the factor of playing a team for a second time in the same season.
“Rutgers will be super motivated,” Nolan said. “But if they’re not motivated playing in the second round of the NCAAs, they’ve got problems. And if we advance and Virginia advance, those Virginia kids will be looking to play into the Elite Eight.”
Attacking midfielder Caitlin Farrell, who sits second on the team with nine assists and who all season — on the side opposite senior forward Grace Damaska — has torched outside backs for pace, thinks last meeting’s overtime ending adds to the intensity of Friday’s match.
“I think they’ll come out strong because we beat them in a tough way last time, scoring twenty seconds into the first overtime,” Farrell said. “So if I were them, I would be pretty excited for this game.”
Nolan is particularly conscious in planning for Rutgers senior forward Madison Tiernan, who has notched 11 goals and six assists on the season.
“She’s a real handful. She’s the full package. She’s strong, fast, can shoot right and left foot, and she pops up everywhere. She’s a little bit like Crystal, in that she plays central, and she can play wide on both flanks,” Nolan said, referencing how Tiernan compares to graduate student forward Crystal Thomas. “She’s going to be a danger. But they’ve got a good supporting cast around her.”
With Scarlet Knight freshman midfielder Nicole Whitley, who Nolan compared to Corboz, along with others supporting Tiernan, Rutgers has the individual quality to turn a game in a moment.
“It’s a toss-up,” Nolan said. “I just watched our first game against them this morning, and the game went on certain moments. They scored early, Tiernan scored a great goal from distance … I expect it to be a tight-knit game. I wouldn’t be shocked if it finishes on PKs.”
Four games into the season, before taking on Rutgers, the Hoyas had done what they were expected to do in going 3-1 and competing against No. 1 Stanford (18-1-1, 10-1-0 Pac-12).
It was after Corboz’s overtime strike in New Jersey that the dream season began.
“Beating Rutgers was the beginning of our great success for this season, because they were a top-25 ranked team,” Farrell said. “And then beating Virginia just catapulted that even further, because they were ranked third at the time. That’s when we knew we had a really good team this year, and we can play with the best of them.”
Beyond any defined goals, however, the Hoyas continue to take it one game at a time, enjoying the ride.
“They just want to keep playing,” Nolan said. “They enjoy being around each other. They’re well aware of the circumstances, that you’re in an NCAA tournament, and it’s win and move on, lose and your seasons over. But they’re not looking at it like that. They’re enjoying the run they’re on, and they want to keep it going.”
Kickoff on Friday is set for 1:30 p.m.
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