Entering the 2015-16 season, the Georgetown women’s soccer team (11-5-3, 5-1-2 Big East) had appeared in the NCAA tournament in three consecutive seasons. However, after the Hoyas lost to the Providence Friars (13-8-1, 5-4-0 Big East) in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the Big East tournament, they had to face the prospect of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011.
“Unfortunately, the result did not go our way, but we are holding our breath and hoping for a bid into the tournament,” senior forward Crystal Thomas said.
However, Georgetown does not have to worry about the possibility of an early end to the season, as it earned a bid to the NCAA tournament Monday night. The Hoyas will host the Hofstra Pride on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Only the winner of the Big East tournament is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament’s field of 64 teams. Of the 64 slots, 31 are automatic bids reserved for conference winners.
Thus, only 33 teams are selected for “at-large bids,” which are given to teams whose performances during the regular season warrant a postseason appearance although they did not win their conferences. Georgetown was ranked No. 37 in the NCAA Rating Percentage Index rankings and was not one of the 39 teams to receive at least one vote in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Coaches Poll. It seemed possible that the Hoyas might not receive a bid.
A potential early end to the season was particularly disheartening for Georgetown’s three graduate students and five seniors who are playing their final seasons for the Hoyas.
“Knowing it could be my last game hit hard at my emotions,” graduate student goalkeeper Emma Newins said. “After five years of playing on this team, it will be hard to move on. The experience I’ve had playing Division I soccer and the team at Georgetown can’t be matched.”
Despite the loss to Providence, Georgetown was still optimistic that it would be able to continue its season.
“I believe our team deserves an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament,” Newins said. “We played a challenging schedule during nonconference play, unlike many other teams in our conference. Although we fell short in some of these games, we stayed competitive. We also had a strong performance during Big East play with a second-place finish.”
Head Coach Dave Nolan noted the unpredictability of the NCAA tournament selection process, citing his 2010-11 team that had a record of 15-6-0, including a 5-0 regular-season record in the Big East, but did not receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.
“I thought we had a very strong team — it could be the best team I’ve ever had — in 2011, and we didn’t get a selection.” Nolan said.
Now that the Hoyas have officially been selected, Georgetown will appear in the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive season. In each of the last three years, the Hoyas won their first-round game before falling in the Round of 32.
In 2012, Georgetown defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 3-2 in overtime on a goal from then-freshman forward Sarah Adams. In the next round, then-sophomore midfielder Daphne Corboz scored her 18th goal of the season in the 83rd minute of the Hoyas’ game against the Baylor Bears, but the Bears quickly scored an equalizer before winning the game in overtime.
In 2013, Georgetown defeated LaSalle 2-0, with Newins recording a shutout in goal, before falling to then-No. 1 Virginia 1-0 in the next round. Last season, the Hoyas beat the West Virginia Mountaineers on penalty kicks after regulation and two overtime periods were scoreless. Georgetown then fell to Virginia Tech 4-3 in overtime in the Round of 32.
This year, Georgetown will avoid playing Virginia Tech, which has split two NCAA tournament overtime matches with Georgetown in the past three seasons. The Hokies are in a different section of the bracket, meaning that the two teams could only meet in the semifinals of the tournament if they both successfully advance to that stage.
Even before entering the NCAA tournament, Newins said she is proud of her team’s performance this season.
“This has been one of my favorite teams I have ever played with at Georgetown, on and off the field,” Newins said. “We had a great collective attitude about working hard and having fun out on the field. We dealt with injuries and disappointing losses well. Although we did not meet some of our objectives, such as winning the Big East tournament, we had a lot of solid performances.”
Georgetown will face Hofstra on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Shaw Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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