WOMEN'S SOCCER | DePaul Looms in Tournament
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 22:10
Although the Georgetown women’s soccer team (14-2-2, 8-1-1 Big East) may have been hoping for a second kick at the can against rival Villanova, it will instead take on DePaul (9-9-2, 5-6-1 Big East) in the Big East tournament’s quarterfinals Sunday at North Kehoe Field.
That’s because the Blue Demons decisively defeated the Wildcats — who had beaten the Hoyas, 1-0, in Georgetown’s regular-season finale last weekend — in a 3-0 victory in the play-in game yesterday.
While recent history favored a tilt against Villanova, Georgetown actually found more success against DePaul this season. Two weeks ago, the Hoyas defeated the Blue Demons, 1-0, on sophomore forward Vanessa Skrumbis overtime goal.
Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan expects the rematch with DePaul to be just as closely contested.
“DePaul is a very difficult team to play against because they’re set up very well defensively,” Nolan said. “If you look at their last five or six games, they tied Villanova, 0-0, they lost to Notre Dame, 1-0, in overtime [and] they lost to us, 1-0, in overtime. They’re a very strong defensive team.”
The win over Villanova on Thursday also showcased their offensive intensity, with the three goals serving as the Blue Demons’ second-highest output of the season after a 4-0 win against Pittsburgh.
The Blue Demons hadn’t scored in three consecutive games — at Villanova, at Georgetown and against Notre Dame — and only broke through in the 68th minute Thursday courtesy of freshman forward Elise Wyatt, who also scored in the 77th minute for her fourth and fifth goals of the year.
While the Blue Demons seem to have finally broken their scoring drought, the Hoyas are having trouble finding the back of the net themselves, with Skrumbis’ goal being the team’s only marker in the past two games.
“I think that teams have started to figure us out a little bit, how to defend us. I think what’s happening is [sophomore midfielder] Daphne [Corboz] is starting to get far more attention — she’s starting to get man-marked a little bit — which is challenging for her,” Nolan said. “Teams have started to figure out that if they clog the middle of the field and force us to play out wide, it takes us away from what we do really well.”
One encouraging sign for the Blue and Gray is that its defense this season has been top notch, so even one goal may be enough against the Blue Demons.
“Against DePaul [last game], we struggled to break them down, but they never looked like they were going to score.” Nolan said.
The Hoyas’ defense, led by redshirt freshman goalkeeper Emma Newins, set a school record with 12 clean sheets this season. One key to the team’s success, according to Nolan, is knowing that Newins can provide an important stop.
“I’d always rather win a game 1-0 than 5-1,” Nolan said. “Emma has been a big part of that because there have been games that we’ve won, 1-0, that would look like she wasn’t involved, but she’s had to step up and make big saves at crucial moments in the game.
Newins has been remarkably consistent in net this season regardless of her team’s offensive performance. She made crucial late saves in victories against Rutgers and Notre Dame — games in which Georgetown outshot their opposition a combined 26-10 — to preserve leads as well as in draws against Santa Clara and Louisville — games in which the Blue and Gray was heavily outshot, 40-20, to avoid defeat.
“That’s the sign of a good goalkeeper: When you’re not being tested, [you] can you keep your focus and concentration and still make a big save at the right time.” Nolan said.
Newins will have to be at her best to contain the Blue Demons.
Georgetown takes on DePaul at North Kehoe Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. for a place in the Big East tournament semifinals.