Hoyas Narrowly Fall to Mountaineers in Competitive Season Opener
Josh Rosson | Hoya Staff Writer
The eyes of the collegiate soccer world were on Washington, D.C., on Friday, as No. 5 Georgetown women’s soccer squared off against No. 1 overall West Virginia University in its season opener. The marquee matchup resulted in a 1-0 victory for the Mountaineers (1-0-0) over the Hoyas (0-1-0) in the sweltering heat at Shaw Field.
WVU only drew blood in the 11th minute of the game with a goal from senior forward Michaela Abam.
“They got a cross into the box, and we couldn’t clear it completely, and, eventually, they got a third cross into the box on the one play, and their kid did a good job of getting a head on it,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan said.
Three new faces manned the backline for the Hoyas — sophomore defender Meaghan Nally, freshman defender Kelly Ann Livingstone and junior defender Jenna Staudt — in part to compensate for the loss of graduate student midfielder Marina Paul.
“It’s tough. Marina has been such a dominant presence and dominant leader for us on the field,” Nolan said. “[The defense] did really well, because with the exception of one goal, I felt we did a really good job with West Virginia.”
Georgetown could not break through to score the equalizer, despite leading West Virginia in both shots (13-7) and corner kicks (9-4).
The Hoyas had numerous opportunities throughout the game to even the score, most notably senior midfielder Rachel Corboz’s shot in the 24th minute and the subsequent rebound shot by junior forward Caitlin Farrell, both saved by Mountaineers’ goalkeeper Rylee Foster. The Blue and Gray just could not push past Foster’s aggressive goal-tending.
“We had plenty of opportunities. Their goalkeeper was outstanding today; she was probably the player of the game,” Nolan said. “She’s possibly the best goalkeeper in college soccer. We couldn’t find a way to get one past her.”
Despite the Hoyas’ inability to maximize certain opportunities, Nolan remained optimistic after the loss.
“I thought we played really well. I came away convinced that we’re going to be a really good team,” Nolan said. “It wasn’t easy; the temperature was incredibly hot, and the humidity was oppressive. I’ve got to commend our kids for doing what they do. … We just have got to find a way to get a little more polished around the goal and finish our chances.”
Friday’s game marked the sequel to last year’s electrifying double-overtime matchup in Morgantown, which Georgetown won 1-0 on a goal from then-senior forward Grace Damaska. The loss gave West Virginia, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, its first home loss in two years.
Nolan noted the differences between that win and Friday’s loss.
“When we beat them up there last year, we dodged a couple of bullets, and we were relying on counter attacks, and we got one, and Grace finished it,” Nolan said. “Today was actually the opposite. We were the better team.”
Both squads made it to the Women’s College Cup last season, with the Hoyas falling to eventual NCAA champion USC in the semifinals, and the Mountaineers experiencing the same fate in the final match.
While last year’s Georgetown Women’s Soccer squad started the season unranked and off the national radar, this year’s team has already racked up numerous preseason accolades.
Georgetown was selected as the preseason favorite to win the Big East Conference, earning all nine possible first-place votes. In addition, the Hoyas swept the individual awards, with Elizabeth Wenger winning Big East Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Arielle Schechtman winning Goalkeeper of the Year and Corboz winning Offensive Player of the Year.
Corboz, who lead the nation with 16 assists last season, was also selected to the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List earlier this week, recognizing the top player in the country.
The Hoyas’ next game is a cross-town matchup today at home against the George Washington Colonials. Kickoff is at 1 p.m., and the game can be watched live on www.GUhoyas.com or HoyasLive on the FOX Sports GO app.
Photo courtesy GU Hoyas.