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

Hoyas Back in Big East Race

What a difference a week makes.

Two Saturdays ago, the Georgetown men’s soccer team (4-4-1, 1-1 Big East) had just lost at Cincinnati to open its conference season and hadn’t won a game in 20 days.

But after a hard-fought, 1-0 victory over Big East Blue Division rival No. 21 West Virginia this past Saturday, Georgetown’s seemingly derailed season is suddenly back on track and motoring ahead.

“It’s a great result for us,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “We held serve at home in a Big East game, and that’s what we needed to do.”

Including their 2-0 takedown of the Adelphi Panthers on Wednesday night at MultiSport Facility, the Hoyas have now recorded two consecutive shutouts. The team’s season total stands at three clean sheets, all of which have been recorded at home.

“Putting up two shutouts is big,” senior defender Ben Slingerland said about the week’s games. “I think we needed that as a group because there were a lot of goals being scored against us, and we predicate ourselves off of our back four and our defense.”

Slingerland and the rest of the backline were tested Saturday by a physical West Virginia forward duo in sophomore Moeryhan Doue and junior Franck Tayou. The two attack-minded Mountaineers top the WVU goal-scoring charts with five and three tallies, respectively.

“They have a couple of big forwards up top, and they have a lot of pace,” Slingerland said. “One thing coach said was, `Don’t let them get in behind you.’ We did a pretty good job of that today, I thought.”

Georgetown had the better of possession in the first half and limited West Virginia to lofted long balls and counterattacks, all of which seemed to be calmly dealt with by either the backline or senior goalkeeper Matthew Brutto and easily redistributed to the midfield.

“They strain you,” Wiese said of the Mountaineers. “They’re pretty direct, they play long balls up and they try to get into you and get behind you.”

But the Hoyas kept their composure on the ball and moved it quickly through the midfield, a task necessitated by the Mountaineers’ player-for-player size and strength advantages.

“They’re big, they’re fast, they’re strong,” Wiese said. “[But] I don’t care how big, how strong, how athletic you are, you’re not as fast as the ball.”

That approach to the game paid off for Wiese’s squad in the 31st minute. Following a nice buildup in the midfield, senior forward Chandler Diggs found himself with space to work with on the left flank and sent a high, arching cross to classmate and midfielder Seth C’deBaca on the right side of the 18-yard box. C’deBaca took his first touch toward goal and past a West Virginia defender but was tripped up along the way, forcing the referee to point to the penalty spot.

“There’s obviously pressure,” sophomore midfielder Ian Christianson said about taking the ensuing penalty kick. “But it’s nothing to crumble under because I’ve got my teammates behind me if I do miss.”

But he didn’t miss. West Virginia redshirt senior goalkeeper Zach Johnson dove to his left and Christianson went to his right, putting the home team in front, 1-0.

From that point on for the Hoyas, it was about managing the lead. Wiese went to his bench frequently to keep fresh legs on the field and switched from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 on occasion to provide the defense with an added buffer in the midfield. In the final moments of the game, the Blue and Gray employed some gamesmanship and time-wasting tactics by the corner flag, eventually securing their first conference win of the season.

“This is definitely big,” Christianson said about defeating West Virginia. “They’re a ranked team, probably favored coming into the game on paper.”

It’s tough to determine the favorite in Georgetown’s next contest, which comes Wednesday at American. The Hoyas play strong soccer in a more prominent conference than their crosstown rivals, but the Eagles – last year’s Patriot League runners-up – have won the sides’ last two meetings by a combined score of 7-2.

“It’s a hard game because it’s a non-league game. It’s a Wednesday afternoon,” Wiese said. “Those games tend to be a little slow, a little lethargic. Guys are walking out of class and onto the field.”

Wiese said that the team intentionally scheduled its game with Adelphi last Wednesday for 7 p.m. to avoid that same sluggishness, but kickoff against American is set for 3 p.m.

“You hope we’re able to approach it in a good way and we’re able to handle the papers and the tests and we can get our mind on the game from the opening whistle,” he said. “That’s going to be our challenge, just making sure that mentally, we’re prepared.”

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