Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Earns At-Large Bid

After a tough, double-overtime loss to South Florida in the Big East tournament quarterfinals last weekend prevented the Hoyas from etching their names into the NCAA tournament draw, the Georgetown women’s soccer team (13-6-1) could finally breathe a sigh of relief yesterday when the selection committee included the Blue and Gray in the tournament’s 64-team field.

The Hoyas’ first-round opponent, the Siena Saints (17-3-0), did not have to rely on the favor of the selection committee, as their Sunday victory over Canisius in the MAAC tournament final assured them of their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

“To be honest, I felt pretty comfortable,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan said of his team’s tournament selection. “Last year I knew we were on the outside looking in [after] we had the bubble-burster [results] go against us. This year I didn’t think we were in that spot where we were reliant on things to go our way.”

Senior goalkeeper Jackie DesJardin was likewise confident before the 4:30 p.m. selection show on Monday but was wary of potential heartbreak.

“I thought we would get in,” she said. “But there’s always that chance. It wasn’t until we actually saw [the draw] that I could relax a little.”

Despite some midseason struggles that saw the Hoyas drop three games in a row at one point, the Blue and Gray bounced back nicely and only lost two games the rest of the regular season, making their profile strong enough that even an early exit from the conference tournament could not keep them out of the draw.

“We had a very strong RPI, and we had a number of good wins,” Nolan said. “[Although] we didn’t have any mind-blowing wins, [we] didn’t have any bad losses, and that was key for us.”

When the current senior class arrived on the Hilltop in 2007, the Hoyas had never been to the NCAA tournament. That changed immediately, as a late-season surge propelled the Blue and Gray to the tournament for the first time in program history. As sophomores and juniors, though, the seniors were unable to build on that momentum as the norovirus outbreak in 2008 and untimely injuries last year did much to derail their last two campaigns.

“It’s awesome, especially after not making it sophomore or junior year,” senior midfielder Caitlin Durkee said. Durkee has not played this year since breaking her leg scoring against Cincinnati in early October. “[We’ve] sort of come full circle. It’s especially nice because in the Big East tournament we didn’t [go] as far as we should have this year.”

“After freshman year, [I] wanted to go back every year,” DesJardin added. “Not making it was frustrating so I’m glad we made it during our last year.”

After the nerve-wracking selection process ended, the players were finally able to reflect on the dispiriting loss to South Florida and find a silver lining in the missed opportunity to make a deep run into the conference tournament.

“I give them credit, [the Bulls] did really well,” redshirt junior midfielder Ingrid Wells said. “It was unfortunate, but we can only use [the loss] to get motivated for Friday.”

“As much as you don’t want to lose, it’s nice having a taste of a loss so you remember what that felt like,” Durkee said. “It’s even more motivation to not feel like that again.”

Although the time for Friday’s matchup is yet to be determined, the Hoyas already know that they will only have to make the short trip to College Park for their first-round matchup. Since the selection committee only seeds 16 teams and places the rest in the draw on a roughly regional basis to minimize travel costs, it was unlikely that the Blue and Gray would have to travel much farther once the Terrapins (17-2-2) solidified their status as a likely No. 1 seed. The Hoyas were still relieved not to have to travel to the regionals hosted by the other top seeds – Stanford, Portland and North Carolina.

“I felt we would go over to Maryland,” Nolan said of his pre-tournament

expectations. “If it wasn’t Maryland it would’ve been Charlottesville against Virginia.”

The Hoyas’ favorable geographic draw does come with a definite downside, though, as it means that a victory over Siena would likely be followed by a Sunday matchup with the Terps unless High Point can pull off an unlikely first-round upset.

“We’re hoping now we can do something special, which is win the first NCAA game in program history,” Nolan said. “Then we would like to knock off Maryland, … but we have to get past Siena on Friday.”

Right now, though, the Georgetown squad knows it needs to take care of what it can control, which is recapturing the form that saw them go toe-to-toe with Notre Dame for 120 minutes in a regular season-ending 1-1 draw on Oct. 24 at North Kehoe.

“We were extremely sharp against Notre Dame. We played so well,” Nolan said. “Our attacking concepts, our speed of play, our technical cleanness was excellent, [but] it wasn’t quite as sharp against South Florida. … I’m hoping now that we finally know who we’re playing [that] we can get back to playing sharp. If we do that I think we can do big things, starting in Friday’s game.”

“It’s a matter of putting away the chances we have and not giving up stupid [goals],” Durkee concurred. “I think that’s what’s really kicked us in the butt this year. … Most of our losses this year have come off of our own mistakes.”

The Hoyas are excited to be back on the national stage after spending two years watching, and Nolan feels that this year was an important step forward for a program that gets closer every year to being a force to be reckoned with, both inside and outside of the Big East.

“We’re excited to play, we’re happy to be in [the tournament],” he said. “This [should] be our expectation every year: to be an NCAA tournament team and not just be the team that may make it every three or four years.”

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