WOMEN'S SOCCER | Big East Bye on Table When GU Faces Irish
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 00:10
With only three games left in the regular season, the No. 11 Georgetown women’s soccer team (12-1-2, 6-0-1 Big East) has a chance to clinch a bye to the Big East quarterfinals with a win against No. 24 Notre Dame this afternoon at North Kehoe Field.
The Hoyas are coming off a frustrating weekend in which they scored just two goals in two games and allowed their first Big East goal of the year. Still, Head Coach Dave Nolan was satisfied leaving Cincinnati and Louisville with four of a possible six points.
“If you throw in the Pittsburgh game, we had three games on the road and picked up two wins and a tie,” Nolan said. “Louisville was always going to be the hard one of the three [games].”
The Blue and Gray persevered against the Cardinals, though, despite playing on an artificial field — which the Blue and Gray isn’t used to — in stormy weather and despite Nolan tempting the soccer gods.
“[Against Louisville,] the goal that Daphne scored was absolutely top quality, and I turned to my assistant and said, ‘I don’t think we’ll see a better goal than that today,’” Nolan said. “And then, low and behold, their special kid hits one as good, if not better, to make it 1-1, and you’re scratching your head, going, ‘Serves me right for opening my big mouth.’”
Georgetown hasn’t lost to Notre Dame (10-3-2, 6-0-1 Big East) in three years — a 2-1 road loss in 2009 was its last defeat in the series — and it was the Hoyas’ banner win over the 2011 national champions last season that, Nolan has argued, should have earned his team entry into the NCAA tournament.
But in spite of what’s at stake in this year’s matchup, Nolan isn’t planning to change anything about his game plan or his team’s style of play.
“What it’s going to come down to, I feel, is two good teams and big players making big plays … or mistakes,” Nolan said. “It’s a big game for both of us, but we’ve always played them very well here. … I feel that it’s going to be a 50-50 game between two of the top three teams in our conference.”
Notre Dame had its winning streak snapped at seven with a 2-2 draw against Rutgers, but, like Georgetown, the team is still undefeated in the Big East. Offensively, the Fighting Irish are led by freshman forward Crystal Thomas, who has registered eight goals in fifteen games thus far.
Georgetown’s redshirt freshman goalie Emma Newins, recently named Big East rookie of the week, will need to continue her strong play. Nolan, for one, thinks she’s up to the task.
“If you can find a keeper that has the ability to make some big-time saves along the way, you’re definitely ahead of the game, and Emma has done both for us this year,” Nolan said. “If you consider that she’s still technically a rookie, she’s got a very bright future.”
After taking on Notre Dame today, Georgetown will catch somewhat of a break, with DePaul (8-7-1, 3-4 Big East) coming to North Kehoe Sunday. If the Blue and Gray aren’t careful, however, this matchup could be a trap game.
With copious preparation for the Irish, it would be easy to overlook the middling Blue Demons. But Nolan is confident that his team won’t lose focus against DePaul.
“Every game is huge, because if we were to beat Notre Dame on Friday and lose to DePaul on Sunday, it’s a wasted opportunity,” Nolan said. “So right now we’re focused on Notre Dame, and then we’ll worry about DePaul.”
The dilemma with such quick turnarounds between weekend games — as always in college soccer — is the little to no time allocated to prepare for Sunday matches.
“The reality is that you’ll watch some film, you’ll talk to your team [and] you may walk through a session where you say, ‘This is how we would want to shape things up when we defend, and this what we would like to do when we attack,’ and we’ll get a chance to do that on Saturday,” Nolan said. “But at this stage of the season — for all teams, not just us — you’re kind of running on fumes.”
With three games left before the postseason, the Hoyas will have to hope those fumes can carry them through the next week.
Georgetown plays Notre Dame today at 3 p.m. before facing DePaul Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will take place at North Kehoe Field.