FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Junior defender Marina Paul scored against St. John’s in  the 7th minute of the Big East semifinal game. She has two goals and three assists this season. She has started all 20 games.
FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA
Junior defender Marina Paul scored against St. John’s in the 7th minute of the Big East semifinal game. She has two goals and three assists this season. She has started all 20 games.

The Georgetown women’s soccer team (11-4-5, 6-0-3 Big East) finished as runners-up to champions DePaul (16-0-4, 7-0-2 Big East) in this weekend’s Big East championship in Jamaica, N.Y., losing Sunday’s final 2-0 after dramatically defeating St. John’s (11-7-2, 6-2-1 Big East) on penalties Friday night.

The conference championship game appearance proved enough for the NCAA tournament selection committee to include the Hoyas in the final bracket; Georgetown will take on No. 9 West Virginia (16-2-3, 7-0-1 Big 12) on Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va., in the opening round of the 64-team tournament.

Head Coach Dave Nolan was especially happy with the team’s effort on Friday night to beat tournament hosts St. John’s.

“I wasn’t pleased with the victory on penalties, but I was really pleased with how we played,” Nolan said. “We’d had a tough game up at St. John’s a few weeks prior and we felt that we should have come away with at least a draw. … We came out fast and strong, and put them under a lot of pressure. We really could have been up two or three in the first twelve minutes.”

In the semifinal, Georgetown’s defense adeptly handled St. John’s junior forward Rachel Daly, a proven scoring threat with eight goals this season, and its offense provided several chances, including each Corboz sister hitting the woodwork with a shot. Junior defender Marina Paul scored an early header for the Hoyas, but a 73rd-minute goal from senior defender Georgia Kearney-Perry drew the Red Storm level.

“I was tremendously pleased on Friday. It was probably one of our best soccer-playing performances of the year,” Nolan said. “We had so many players who played really, really well.”

Senior goalkeeper Emma Newins eventually made the decisive save in the 4-3 penalty victory over St. John’s, setting up a rematch with an undefeated DePaul team with which Georgetown drew 3-3 in an exciting game Sept. 25. DePaul had also needed penalties to advance to the final, beating Marquette (10-8-3, 5-3-1 Big East) on Friday night.

“I thought they were better,” Nolan said. “It was hard because both teams had the double overtime and penalty kick games Friday night, so it was always going to be a matter of who could find some energy on the day. And give them all the credit in the world, they’re a very good team.”

FILE PHOTO: NATE MOULTON/THE HOYA Senior midfielder and co-captain Daphne Corboz has 10 goals and eight assists this season.
FILE PHOTO: NATE MOULTON/THE HOYA
Senior midfielder and co-captain Daphne Corboz has 10 goals and eight assists this season.

Early in the match, the Hoyas lost their defensive rock and set-piece target Paul, who was named to the Big East first team, to injury; freshmen defenders Drew Topor and Liz Wenger filled her role, though the team was still recovering from Friday night’s exhausting match.

“Emotionally, in our heads, to win in [penalty kicks], it was so big,” senior midfielder Daphne Corboz said. “And we didn’t get back to the room until 2 a.m., and the game didn’t end until 11 [p.m.]. So it was really hard physically and mentally to overcome playing less than 48 hours later.”

DePaul struck first in Sunday’s nationally televised final when junior forward Elise Wyatt slotted a rebound into the net. A 60th-minute goal made the score 2-0 in favor of the Blue Demons, and Nolan believes that DePaul deserved to take the game.

“They were two scrappy, half-chance kind of goals,” Nolan said. “They didn’t have much more than that, but they looked livelier. … I felt they were a bit better on the day.”

With its Big East title hopes slipping away, Georgetown switched from its typical 4-2-3-1 system to a 3-5-2 configuration for the last 20 minutes in order to create more chances. Although the tactical change proved successful, none of those chances found the back of the net.

“We got plenty of opportunities and plenty of the ball,” Nolan said. “We started to open them up a little bit and started to get some shots. But they really dropped into a 4-5-1, and sat in and tried to counter.”

The title was DePaul’s first-ever Big East women’s soccer championship, and the Hoyas’ second appearance in the championship match

Corboz, Newins and sophomore forward Grace Damaska were selected to the Big East all-Tournament Team. Nolan made sure to give the Big East Midfielder and Offensive Player of the Year credit for the strong tournament showing.

“On Friday night, I thought Daphne [Corboz] put in as dominant a performance as you’ll ever see in a women’s soccer game, in any soccer game,” Nolan said. “She was tremendous from start to finish.”

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