Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 01:11
FILE PHOTO: CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
Junior forward Kaitlin Brenn, shown here against DePaul, scored one of Georgetown’s three goals against Virginia Tech.
While the Georgetown men’s soccer team’s weekend ended in heartbreak, the women’s team’s weekend was one of euphoria. The No. 14 Blue and Gray (16-3-3, 8-1-1 Big East) advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 3-2 double-overtime win at Virginia Tech (13-6-1, 4-5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The Hoyas, runners-up at the Big East Championship last weekend, faced a team that had not played since Oct. 24, not having qualified for its own conference tournament. There were certainly signs of rust from the Hokies, as the Blue and Gray controlled play in the opening twenty minutes, which resulted in a goal three minutes into the match from junior forward Colleen Dinn off a cross from sophomore midfielder Daphne Corboz.
Despite facing a Georgetown defense allowing only 0.59 goals per game this year, Virginia Tech responded in the latter part of the first half by taking advantage of the height of 5-foot-10 freshman midfielder Ashley Meier, who headed in a cross to even the game in the 41st minute.
“One of our girls misjudged the flight of the ball, and, all of a sudden, it was a free header that the kid had,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “So that was really disappointing, and I think that knocked us back a little because the crowd really got into it. And they were starting to get the upper hand when that goal came.”
The Hokies stayed on the attack and went ahead two minutes later when junior forward Jazmine Reeves converted a through ball into a low far-post strike to give the home side the advantage.
“They have one really fast forward, and she did what we had talked about that she would do: She finished it well,” Nolan said. “But I thought we defended it poorly.”
Georgetown came out of the break needing a goal to keep their season alive, and a tactical change to a midfield diamond — mirroring Virginia Tech’s own formation — worked wonders for the Blue and Gray, who, until that point, had found it hard to keep up with the opposition’s speedy ball movement. The additional striker also put more pressure on the hosts’ backline.
“The strength of their team is their two center backs’ playmaking from the back, and [our having two forwards up top] made it difficult for them,” Nolan said. “All of a sudden, when they would try and find their players in the diamond, we would have somebody matched up, and they found it difficult to kind of play out of it.”
Georgetown tied the game in the 78th minute when junior forward Kaitlin Brenn headed in a cross from junior defender Mary Kroening after a period of sustained attack.
“In our scouting report, we had talked about [how] if we could get the ball in the box, I didn’t feel they were great at marking people,” Nolan said. “They would ball-watch a lot, and that’s how we scored the second goal. It was a pretty harmless cross into the box that Kaitlin scored with a header.”
As the game went into overtime, Nolan was confident in his team despite the knowledge that anything can happen in a golden-goal situation.
“After we scored the second goal, we were the better team. We were well on top at that stage. So I just told them, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, but let’s get the ball into the box.’”
And that they did. Sophomore forward Jessica Clinton found streaking freshman forward Sarah Adams in the 94th minute, and the rookie lifted the ball over the Virginia Tech keeper to send the Hoyas into the second round.
The emergence of Adams and Dinn as legitimate goal-scoring threats has been critical for the Blue and Gray as opposing teams have keyed in on Brenn and Corboz. Adams’ production has been a particularly welcome surprise, turning the Georgetown offense into a more three-dimensional attack.
“It’s very hard and very unfair to have expectations for freshmen, in my opinion, because it’s a big adjustment coming away from home, adjusting to the college life and the college game and just the physicality that wears on you,” Nolan said. “But I know she’s a tremendous player, and I know she’s got so much potential.”
The Hoyas travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., next to take on Baylor (18-1-4, 5-0-3 Big 12), who has been undefeated in its last 19 games. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday.