Behind sophomore forward Amanda Carolan’s second goal of the season, the No. 18 Georgetown women’s soccer team (7-1) beat local rival George Washington (6-2) on the road Thursday afternoon 1-0 to extend its winning streak to six games.
The win came in a different style than the team has become accustomed to over the early part of its nonconference schedule; entering the match, Georgetown’s goals per game ranked fourth in the country at 3.29 goals per game, and the exciting 3-2 win on Sunday over then-No. 3 Virginia (7-1) seemed to leave a certain hangover, even in victory.
The Hoyas controlled the flow of the game for much of the first half, and in the eighth minute Carolan took a pass from sophomore forward Caitlin Farrell and a few dribbles later finished past the keeper from close range.
Head Coach Dave Nolan pointed to the playing surface as a factor in the Hoyas’ less dynamic attacking performance and in the Colonials’ amazing record of just three home losses in the last three seasons.
“It’s turf, which we don’t play on,” Nolan said. “And it’s a very spongy, soft, slow turf. And it slows up the game something fierce. And for a team that relies on speed and likes to attack at pace, it really hurt us today. We never could really get the ball out from under our feet. … After Sunday’s win, I’m just happy to get the win and get out of here.”
Georgetown’s forwards looked dangerous throughout; senior forward Grace Damaska took four shots, two on target, and graduate student forward Crystal Thomas and freshman forward/midfielder Paula Germino-Watnick notched two shots apiece.
But much of the match was played in a congested midfield due to the slow turf, which junior midfielder Taylor Pak controlled well before tiring near the end of the contest.
“It was just hard, because they were playing in a 4-5-1, sitting back and trying to counter,” Nolan said. “And we’re trying to get forward, and then it turns over, and now we’re chasing. … So I didn’t feel there was a lot of room in center midfield, and Taylor [Pak] was the one for us who probably managed most of the situation of playing with a lot of numbers in there on a slow field.”
The second half saw a greater balance between the two teams, with the Colonials pushing for the equalizer and creating a few notable chances. A potential tying goal was ruled out for offsides just seven minutes from full time.
While Georgetown has enjoyed an impressive start to its season, The George Washington University ran out to the best start in its program’s history and remained undefeated through its first six games; in fact, before a loss at Liberty last weekend, GWU had won nineteen consecutive regular season games.
Nolan knew to be especially wary of GWU senior forward MacKenzie Cowley, who scored the lone goal in the Colonials’ upset of then-No. 17 Arkansas (7-1).
“I’m glad she’s a senior now and I won’t have to see her again. She’s a kid who’s really developed into a good college player. And she was always a threat today. I thought [junior defender] Liz [Wenger] did a very good job on her. It looked like Mackenzie almost got away once or twice, but it seemed like Lizzie always at the last minute managed to step in.”
Graduate student Marina Paul started in central defense alongside Wenger and also played the full 90 minutes.
Looking at the difficult nonconference games, Nolan has been pleased with the results so far but sees one major opportunity remaining with West Virginia looming.
“When I set this schedule up, we had four predominant games in there, with Stanford, Virginia, Rutgers and West Virginia,” Nolan said. “And I was hoping, best case scenario, we could get results in two of them, which we have.”
Two years ago in the NCAA Tournament, Georgetown progressed on penalties (4-3) from the first round after 110 minutes of goalless soccer, upsetting West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Hoyas next travel to No. 2 West Virginia (6-0-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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