For the second straight year, the Georgetown women’s soccer team was on the wrong end of the scoreboard after a 90-minute contest with Stanford. The Hoyas absorbed a 4-1 defeat at North Kehoe Field a year after losing, 2-0, during an early-season West Coast trip.

Despite the lopsided result, though, there were some positives to take from a game that the No. 2 Cardinal bossed for much of the first half.

Stanford forced a turnover a minute into the game and streamed forward to open the scoring. Senior forward Lindsay Taylor calmly chipped the ball over Georgetown’s onrushing goalie, junior Hanna Monson, before most spectators had settled into their seats.

“When you play a team like this, you have to hang in there for the first 15 minutes,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “Good teams set the tone early, and [Stanford] set the tone early. We were down, 1-0, before we really had a chance to blink.”

The crossbar came to the Hoyas’ rescue in the 10th minute, and the hosts were fortunate not to be down by more when they mustered their first meaningful chance in the 27th minute. After some nice work by freshman midfielder Daphne Corboz, senior midfielder Kelly D’Ambrisi fired the ball over the Stanford net from just outside the box. The Cardinal, though, were not shaken by the Blue and Gray offense finally coming to life. When Taylor fired a rocket from 30-plus yards out past Monson, there was nothing but frustration on the Georgetown bench.

“We knew [Taylor] liked to shoot and we had talked about stepping up and contesting her shot,” Nolan said. “[But] in the heat of the moment we hesitated, and in that moment of hesitation she just cracked it.”

Georgetown continued to improve even after the goal, but Stanford’s relentless ball pressure wreaked havoc on the hosts’ offense. They were unable to muster a single shot on goal until the 70th minute. But despite the offensive struggles, the Hoyas’ play visibly improved in the second half once Nolan moved D’Ambrisi — generally positioned in a fluid, attacking role behind the striker — into a more central, defensive midfield role. The decision, which Noland had experimented with against Towson, significantly improved ball movement out of the back four even against the much more dangerous Stanford squad.

“For about 20 minutes we had them on their heels,” Nolan said. “Kelly was a big part of that.”

That show of strength, mostly in the second half, gave the Hoyas at least some cause for optimism.

“If we play the way we did in the second half in all our other games, we’ll be a really good team this year,” redshirt senior midfielder Ingrid Wells said.

Alongside D’Ambrisi, the 5-foot-3 Wells had the unenviable task of trying to break down a tall Stanford midfield and back four. The Cardinal boast five players who stand 5-foot-7 or taller, and were generally unafraid of using their physical advantage to knock Georgetown attackers off the ball and win headers.

The Cardinal had all but salted the game away when senior forward Sam Baker stepped forward to take a long free kick. The ball found its way into the back of the net, despite attempts from players on both teams to connect with her low delivery into the area.

Although the visitors quickly restored their three-goal lead just minutes later, Baker’s goal was a well-deserved reward for a team that had played well enough in the second half to earn a goal or two.

“It was disappointing to give up the fourth goal,” Nolan said. “3-1 probably would have been a fair result.”

The center back pairing of sophomore Emily Menges and senior Gabby Miller played a major part in keeping the Cardinal from scoring even more, constantly snuffing out scoring opportunities and occasionally getting forward to help with the attack.

“I think Emily is the best defender in the [Big East],” Nolan said. “And I thought Gabby Miller was also very good. We had to soak up a lot of pressure.”

Georgetown almost grabbed a consolation goal in the waning moments, only for the Stanford goalie to claim a free kick similar to the one Baker had scored earlier, leaving the end score 4-1. The loss was somewhat disappointing for Georgetown, who had previously sported a perfect record and had established last year during its Elite Eight run that it belonged with the nation’s best.

“We needed to play a flawless game, and that’s probably the most disappointing thing,” Nolan said. “I thought all four goals were four mistakes on our part, and I thought the rest of it we handled pretty well, but that’s the game.”

Last year’s loss to Stanford didn’t derail the 2010 version of the Hoyas. And although it seems unlikely to derail this team, only time will tell.

“It’s better to have this happen now, early on in the season,” Wells said after the game. “We can use this.”

The Hoyas’ first chance to “use this” experience comes next Friday, when they play the first of two games at the Tribe Invitation in Williamsburg, Va., against VCU.

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