WOMEN'S SOCCER | Hoyas Take a Shot at Revenge
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 01:10
The last time the No. 6 Georgetown women’s soccer team took to the pitch against Marquette was in the 2012 Big East Tournament Final. The lone goal in that closely contested match was scored in the 88th minute by the Golden Eagles and was enough to give Marquette their first ever Big East Tournament championship. It is a defeat that still haunts the Hoyas, and this Sunday afternoon in Wisconsin, they will get a shot at revenge.
“I think [the players] are excited to get another look at Marquette,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “We lost a really tough one to them last year in the Big East Tournament Final. I thought we were slightly better than them on the day, and I think that still resonates with some of the kids.”
Although no trophy will be on the line when the Hoyas (11-0-2, 3-0-1 Big East) and the Golden Eagles (11-3-0, 4-0-0 Big East) meet this weekend, the stakes will be high for several reasons.
First and foremost, it is a matchup of the top two teams in the Big East. In the preseason coaches’ poll, Marquette was picked to finish first in the conference, and Georgetown was picked second. That is exactly how it has shaken out as conference play nears its midpoint, but a victory for the Hoyas would put the team in prime position to win their second Big East regular season title in as many years.
“The regular season title was a great achievement for us last year because it was the first time we’d done it,” Nolan said. “[This year,] I think it’d be a nice achievement that would be an indication of all of our good work.”
The matchup with Georgetown will be of extra importance to a Marquette team that is in search of a signature win for its NCAA tournament resume. Thirty-four teams receive at-large bids for the NCAA tournament, and the Golden Eagles appear to be toeing that line.
Marquette has lost both games it has played against ranked teams this season: a 2-1 defeat at the hands of No. 2 UCLA and a 1-0 loss to No. 7 Portland. The Golden Eagles’ third loss came at the hands of a middling Illinois State team.
“I think they’ll be looking at us as a game that could get them over the hump for an at-large bid should they not qualify,” said Nolan.
“I don’t think we’re quite as desperate because we have good wins over William & Mary and UConn, a good tie against UCF and we have a high RPI.”
Indeed it would seem that only a collapse of historical proportions could keep Georgetown out of the NCAA tournament at this point. The Hoyas rose from ninth to sixth in the NSCAA poll this week, the highest ranking in program history.
In addition to the first place title, good old-fashioned bragging rights will be up for grabs this weekend. With historical powers Notre Dame, Louisville and UConn no longer members of the Big East, Georgetown and Marquette are primed to be the class of the conference in the foreseeable future.
“I do think this [match] is emerging now in this new conference as the rivalry game between the two top teams,” Nolan said. “You don’t want [the Hoyas] to treat it like any other game because it does mean a little bit more. These kids are smart enough to know that.”
Tactically, Georgetown expects to encounter an opponent that actively engages their defense rather than an opportunistic team that looks to counterattack in transition.
“They’re a very attack-minded team, which I think our kids will enjoy, because our last four games have been against teams that have just sat in and defended against us … and it’s been very frustrating for our girls to try to break [the opposition’s defense] down,” Nolan said. “[Marquette] will come out on their home field and will be looking to knock us out.”
The Marquette match will mark the end of a three-game road trip for the Hoyas. Georgetown will return to Shaw Field for the first time in almost three weeks next Thursday to face St. John’s (7-3-2, 1-2-1 Big East).
The Red Storm are led by sophomore forward Rachel Daly, whose 14 goals make her the current leading scorer in the Big East.
Nolan had high praise for Daly. “She’s made a big difference for them,” he said.
St. John’s sits at seventh place in the Big East, meaning that if the season ended today, the team would miss the conference tournament by one spot.
“Depending on [St. John’s] result this weekend, Thursday could be a desperation game for them,” Nolan said. “They’re a very good team, so I’m not expecting an easy game.”