The Georgetown women’s soccer team (6-1) delivered a shocking performance, upsetting No. 3 Virginia (7-1) in a thrilling 3-2 contest.
Down 2-0 after nine minutes to a team that had not conceded a goal in 976 minutes stretching back to last season, the Hoyas looked on the ropes. However, a stunning 25-yard laser strike off a poor UVA clearance by junior midfielder Taylor Pak sparked the shocking Georgetown comeback, and the defense held firm in the second half to seal the victory.
Head Coach Dave Nolan knew his team would have the ability to counterattack against the Cavaliers, and once one goal went in, the Hoyas had all the momentum.
“It was a huge win for this team, and it was a huge win for the program,” Nolan said. “You’re going against perennially one of the national championship contenders, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. … Whenever you have personnel that can score goals you’ve always got a chance.”
Twelve minutes after Pak’s rocket, junior midfielder Chloe Knott threaded a through ball into the path of sophomore forward Amanda Carolan, who dispatched the ball past the keeper for her first career goal, knotting the game at two.
Junior midfielder Rachel Corboz, who entered the game tied for third in the country in points, drew confidence from a Georgetown offense scoring at a clip of 3.20 goals per game, seventh in the nation.
“We always knew from the start that if we do get scored on, we do have the potential to score again,” Corboz said. “We have been scoring a lot of goals this season. It was good we didn’t put our heads down and just kept fighting through.”
The third and decisive goal came in the 38th minute, when Corboz lined up a 30-yard free kick and deposited it in over the UVA keeper.
A massive comeback became necessary after an opening 10-minute period saw UVA win nearly every 50-50 ball and completely dominate the game to the tune of two goals and a seemingly commanding lead.
“Coach Wiese just said to me that the first 10 minutes was probably the best 10 minutes of soccer anybody has played on this field this year,” Nolan said. “And at one point I was coming down the line and I was thinking, ‘How can I get out down the tunnel and get down to my car?’”
Though disappointed UVA scored off a corner, Nolan admitted he left freshman defender Sarah Trissel in too long despite her not feeling well; Trissel’s replacement at right back after 21 minutes, freshman defender Meaghan Nally, stood in impressively.
“Credit to Meaghan Nally who came in and did a great job for us,” Nolan said. “She gave us loads of energy and defended heroically.”
After an incredibly lively first half filled with end-to-end action, the second half failed to provide the same level of excitement.
“The first half was way too open, and we probably played it too open,” Nolan said. “We should have maybe tried to sit back in a bit and limit them, which we did in the second half. And we kept everything from them in the second half.”
In the 54th minute, junior defender Liz Wenger, who started at center back, brought a UVA player down right on the line of the 18-yard box, and the referee initially appeared to award a penalty.
Eventually, however, he decided to award a free kick to the Cavaliers on the edge of the box, from which they were unable to convert.
Then, in the 78th minute, a Virginia player went down again at the edge of the box in prime free kick location, and the referee looked to be giving Wenger a yellow card; instead, he called the Cavalier for a dive and sent the free kick the other way.
Pak, who initiated the comeback, recognized the importance of remaining composed under the waves of Virginia attack over the final 10 minutes.
“In the last minutes of the game, the only way that a team will come back is off one of our mistakes,” Pak said. “And so the only choice we had was to stay calm, especially against a team like that who’s so technically sophisticated and is able to run at us with the ball and put us under so much pressure.”
In the second half, the Hoyas were certainly pinned back at times but won the 50-50 balls they had been losing early in the first half.
“At halftime coming back out, I [told them], ‘This second half is really going to be a matter of who wants it most,’” Nolan said.
The Hoyas next travel to local rival George Washington University (6-1) on Thursday at 3 p.m.
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