For just over a month, the men’s soccer team forgot how to lose. Georgetown put together a streak of nine consecutive victories, culminating in a 1-0 win over No. 6 Connecticut last Thursday that secured the first Big East regular season title for the Hoyas (11-5-1, 7-2-0 Big East) since 1994.
But on Sunday night in South Bend, Ind., Notre Dame (9-4-4, 6-2-1 Big East) snapped that streak and spoiled Georgetown’s Halloween, handing the Blue and Gray their first loss since Sept. 25. The Fighting Irish prevailed 3-0, slotting all three of their goals past senior goalkeeper Matthew Brutto in the second half.
“To be honest, I think we didn’t play with the same kind of edge and real focus that we’ve been showing,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “And I thought that Notre Dame did.”
The Irish had much more to play for than a victory over the Hoyas on the cold, breezy evening at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame was fighting for the second seed in the Big East Blue Division and a bye to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, while Georgetown had already cemented its first-place finish in the league with Thursday’s win over Connecticut.
“It was a tough spot for us to be in,” said Wiese, who coached at Notre Dame as an assistant under current Head Coach Bobby Clark from 2001 to 2005. “They played with a little more purpose than we did on the night.”
The first half of the game played out evenly, and the teams went into the break at a scoreless stalemate. Georgetown failed to register a shot in the opening 45 minutes, and Notre Dame was unable to put even one of its four attempts on goal.
“It was a very uneventful half for both teams,” Wiese said.
The mood changed quickly in the second half, however, as Notre Dame senior forward Steven Perry broke the deadlock in the 55th minute on an assist from junior midfielder Brendan King.
“Once they scored the goal, I think their tail went up and they pressed harder, and our guys just didn’t have an answer for it,” Wiese said.
Perry and King combined for another goal less than two minutes later, and sophomore midfielder Dillon Powers put the finishing touch on another King pass in the 76th minute to make it 3-0.
Sunday was the Hoyas’ most lopsided defeat of the season, and it snapped their longest winning streak since 1994 when the conference champions won 11 in a row.
“You can’t do that and expect to get a result in a place like Notre Dame,” Wiese said of his team’s performance.
Despite the loss, Georgetown still has its regular season title to stand on and high hopes for the Big East tournament. The Hoyas are the top seed in the Blue Division and will face the winner of Wednesday’s opening-round matchup between Providence and Villanova in a quarterfinal on Saturday at North Kehoe Field.
“Hopefully [the Notre Dame loss] will be one of those games that refocuses us,” Wiese said. “We’ll take advantage of the week-long rest to really get down to some of our basics.”
The Blue and Gray have defeated both Providence and Villanova already this year, but Wiese was quick to dismiss that prior success as an advantage. As the women’s 1-0, double-overtime loss over the weekend to South Florida – a team they bested 3-1 a month earlier at North Kehoe Field – shows, it’s difficult to beat a team twice in one season.
So regardless of his team’s opponent on Saturday, Wiese expects a dogfight.
“If you’re a team that’s found a way to get to the [Big East tournament] quarterfinals, you’re a team that’s very good,” Wiese said.
Providence visits Villanova at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Saturday’s quarterfinal at North Kehoe Field kicks off at 1 p.m.