The No. 10/7 Georgetown women’s soccer team earned the third seed in this year’s conference tournament with a 3-0 win over Creighton (9-6-2, 4-5 Big East) on Friday night in Omaha, NE.
The seeding means that Georgetown (14-2-2, 6-1-2 Big East) will take on sixth-seeded Butler (11-6-2, 4-4-1 Big East) at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at Shaw Field in the Big East Championship quarterfinals, with Depaul (10-6-2, 7-2 Big East) awaiting the winner in the semifinals.
In the Creighton victory, the Hoyas led 2-0 at halftime on the strength of senior forward Grace Damaska’s 23rd minute chip, before junior midfielder Taylor Pak finished from twelve yards out. Damaska’s goal was her team-leading 12th on the season.
Crucial saves from sophomore goalkeeper Arielle Schechtman after junior midfielder Rachel Corboz slotted home from six yards in the 54th minute finished the Bluejays off. Sophomore forward Caitlin Farrell earned her seventh assist of the season on Corboz’s goal.
Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan saw Creighton’s attacking intent play into Georgetown’s style well. Nolan knew that the Bluejays were playing for their season and needed a win to keep their tournament dreams alive.
“They knew they needed to win,” Nolan said. “It wasn’t a situation where they could sit back and try to get a draw, like Everton [does] most Sundays. They actually went for it … We knew we were going to have to deal with the emotion of the game and basically not shoot ourselves in the foot. And I thought the girls did a really good job of staying focused on the task at hand.”
Nolan noted the importance of Schechtman’s momentum-denying saves, with one coming just before halftime and another, this time a double save, in the 78th minute.
The victory concludes a regular season for Georgetown which saw success with several victories over highly ranked teams, but also had a sense of disappointment of not placing higher in a relatively weak Big East conference. The Big East tournament looms next for the Hoyas, with the semifinals and finals taking place at Shaw Field on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
But in order to get there, the Hoyas must first defeat reigning tournament champions Butler on Tuesday, and Georgetown’s recent history in the conference tournament has not been a positive one.
Four years ago, a Marquette goal with less than three minutes to play in the final sent the Hoyas to a difficult 1-0 loss.
The following season, despite outshooting Depaul 15-1 in the first half, Georgetown fell in the semifinals, 1-0.
The 2014 final resulted in a similarly frustrating 2-0 loss to Depaul and then junior defenderMarina Paul suffering a knee injury.
And last year, despite hitting the woodwork three times in the first half, the Hoyas fell at the semifinal stage in penalty kicks to Providence.
Now, with one of their strongest teams in recent years, the Hoyas will look to exorcise their Big East tournament demons..
Corboz, who sits joint-second in the Big East in points scored with 28, has been named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week three times this seasonand is looking to put the past few years of tournament play behind her.
“Being so close the last two years only makes us more fired up and excited to go out there and play,” Corboz said. “We want redemption and to finally become a Big East champion.”
Though the Hoyas beat Butler 5-0 behind five first-half goals on Oct 9, Nolan, who gave Butler credit for holding the second half scoreless, acknowledged the attacking danger especially of senior midfielder Serina Kashimoto and sophomore forward Paige Monaghan, and believes this match will be closer.
“We probably played as good a first half as we’ve played in all my time here,” Nolan said. “I’m not sure if we can play as well again, but I think that they can play better than that first half. And it’s going to be a tough game. I expect it to be a tight game.”
In the last matchup, the Hoyas came out quick, as sophomore forward Amanda Carolan grabbed the Hoyas’ first goal within the first two minutes, Damaska got a second nine minutes later, and Carolan added a third all within 17 minutes of the opening whistle. Graduate student Crystal Thomas proceeded to score twice within the half’s last four minutes for the 5-0 lead.
Corboz reiterated Nolan’s desire to focus on this game, and not look ahead to the potential match against Depaul.
“We need to make sure we do not overlook this game despite our previous win against them,” Corboz said.” Butler is a good team and they’ve had good results. I think we need to replicate what we did the first game and come out with a lot of intensity and score early.”
The Hoyas open the Big East Championship with their quarterfinal game against Butler on Tuesday at 2 p.m. on Shaw Field.
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