After being picked to finish fifth in the Big East by the United Soccer Coaches, Georgetown surpassed expectations, finishing second in the Big East regular season standings and winning the Big East Tournament for the second time in their history. Season highlights included the Hoyas’ trip to College Park, Md. where they ended the Maryland Terrapins’ 31-game regular season unbeaten streak, winning 1-0 on freshman midfielder Jacob Montes’ late goal.

Despite this, an impressive 2017 season came to a sudden end for the Hoyas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Following a first-round bye, the No. 18 Georgetown Hoyas (14-4-2, 6-2-1 Big East) hosted the No. 11 SMU Mustangs (17-3-1, 5-1-1 AAC) at Shaw Field. Despite taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first half, the Hoyas conceded two fluky goals late in the game, including the game winner with 14 seconds left in double overtime, and fell 2-1 to the Mustangs.

The Hoyas were a balanced team throughout the year with a dynamic attack and a stout defense. Up top, sophomore forward Achara carried the load. Despite being hampered by injuries and only playing in 11 games, Achara caused immense problems for opponents, tallying seven goals for the Hoyas.

Still, it was freshman forward Derek Dodson who was the most prolific attacker for Georgetown. Dodson scored ten goals for the Hoyas and was named Second Team All-Big East and Big East Freshman of the Year. Dodson dazzled with his timely runs and sharp goal-scoring instincts in the box. Led by Dodson and Achara, the Hoyas finished second in scoring in the Big East with 1.75 goals per game.

Even in the few games in which Georgetown struggled to find a goal, the stout Hoya defense usually stifled the opposition’s attack. Junior captain JT Marcinkowski was composed in the goal throughout the year, finishing second in the Big East with eight shutouts. Perhaps his biggest contributions to the team never showed up on the stat sheet: the leadership and poise he showed in directing the backline.

The Hoyas’ backline as a whole deserves significant credit for its play. Junior captain defender Brendan McDonough and junior defender Peter Schropp formed a tough center-back pairing that would give opposing forwards nightmares.

In a 3-0 win over Butler midway through the Big East season, Schropp and McDonough marked Butler forward Brandon Guhl, the Big East leading scorer, so well that he was completely invisible throughout the game. For his outstanding defending throughout the year, McDonough was named to the First Team All-Big East.

The wing-back positions had a bit more rotation: Freshman midfielder Foster McCune, freshman defender Sean O’Hearn and sophomore defender/midfielder Dylan Nealis all featured at different points throughout the year. No matter who was in the game, the Hoyas’ defense seemed to function seamlessly.

As is usual in soccer, the midfield had a lot of rotation over the course of the season, but senior captain Christopher Lema was steadfast in his role as the leader of the midfield. Always calm when he received the ball, Lema was a dependable player for the Hoyas.

Lema also took the majority of corners, set pieces and consistently generated good scoring chances with his shots into the box. He finished third on the team in both goals and assists with four of each and was named to the First Team All-Big East.

The other senior in the midfield, Declan McCabe, played further up the pitch and functioned as both a forward and midfielder. McCabe was a great creative presence and was a big factor in Georgetown’s dynamic attack throughout the year. When the Hoyas were struggling to generate chances, it was usually McCabe who would either find himself a scoring opportunity or create an opportunity for someone else.

McCabe exemplified his skill in key moments in the Big East championship game against Xavier (11-6-3, 5-4 Big East). With just over two minutes left in double overtime, McCabe stepped up and bent a free kick in from over twenty yards out, winning the Hoyas the Big East Tournament. For the season, McCabe led the Big East in assists with 10 and was named to the Second Team All-Big East.

The major contributions of freshmen players were also important factors in the team’s success. In addition to Dodson, Montes, O’Hearn and McCune also played a significant number of minutes for the team.

Montes was composed in the midfield and repeatedly played well in big situations. Not only did he score the winning goal against Maryland, but he also scored the only goal for Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament against SMU. Montes finished second on the team in assists and was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team.

O’Hearn and McCune also played well in the defense as wing-backs. O’Hearn was especially impressive in defense and was also named to the Big East All-Freshman Team.

Although Georgetown did lose in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, this season can certainly be considered a success. Having won eight more games this season than in 2016 and captured the Big East conference championship, the Hoyas should be proud of their progress.

The future is certainly bright for Georgetown with Head Coach Brian Wiese at the helm.

Although it will certainly be tough to replace the contributions of this year’s seniors, specifically those of Lema and McCabe, the Hoyas will return a number of key contributors next season. The whole backline, including Marcinkowski in goal, will return along with the dynamic duo of Achara and Dodson up top.

Overall, with another year for the freshmen to grow and mature as players, expect another highly successful season next year, with hopefully a longer NCAA Tournament run.

Drew Sewall is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business.

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