The Georgetown men’s soccer team followed up on its impressive 2017 campaign with another exceptional season in 2018.
The Hoyas (13-5-3, 6-2-1 Big East) finished second in the Big East regular season standings behind Creighton (11-4-3, 7-1-1 Big East). However, Georgetown ultimately went on to win the Big East tournament for the third time in four years, awarding the Hoyas a berth in the NCAA tournament in which they were the sole representative of the Big East in the field of 48.
The Hoyas put together a solid run in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 2014. Seeded 13th overall, Georgetown had a first-round bye before beating West Virginia University in the round of 32. However, the season came to an end in the round of 16, when the Hoyas were shutout 1-0 at home to the Michigan Spartans in a tightly contested game.
Georgetown’s regular season was marked by a tough nonconference schedule in which it played some of the best teams in the nation. The team held three-time defending national champion Stanford University to a 1-1 draw and looked far more composed than its opponents in the process. In addition, it knocked off the #8 Duke Blue Devils 1-0 on Duke’s own field.
However, the defining moment of the Hoyas’ regular season came on the road during their 2-1 comeback win over the Creighton Bluejays in their final Big East game of the season. Playing in front of his hometown crowd, senior defender Peter Schropp scored a screeching goal from a free kick to tie the game at one. Then, in the third minute of overtime, sophomore forward Derek Dodson hit a well-struck volley in the box to score the sudden death goal and win the match for the Hoyas. This win over Creighton, the Big East regular season champion, propelled the Hoyas into the postseason. Georgetown’s effort came up short against Michigan State, but the season was marked by incredible balance and star players on both offense and defense.
The Hoyas’ potent attack led them all season. They averaged 21 shots per game, the third most in the nation. Dodson and junior forward Achara combined to make a powerful duo up top; Dodson finished with nine goals during the regular season, tied for second in the Big East. Achara and Dodson both finished all-Big East first team.
Georgetown’s midfield provided another strong spot in 2018. Senior midfielder Kyle Zajec took the lead in the center of the pitch. The Hoyas were able to frequently recycle possession through Zajec, as he was one of the most important parts of the Hoyas’ buildup play. Zajec also took a majority of the corners and free kicks and was a large reason why the Hoyas were dangerous from set pieces.
Freshman midfielder Sean Zawadski was also a bright spot for the Hoyas. He demonstrated poise and composure and should continue to be an important piece of the Hoyas’ team going forward. Zajec and Zawadski both received postseason honors; Zajec was named to the all-Big East second team, while Zawadski was named to the Big East all-freshman team.
Anchored by its two senior center backs, Peter Schropp and Brendan McDonough, Georgetown’s stout defense evolved as the season wore on. The biggest adjustment that the Hoyas’ defense made during the regular season was preventing the opposition from getting opportunities on net. Freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis also made key plays as the season wore on. Nikopolidis became more vocal and assertive in the box and generally helped deal with any potential danger well.
During the regular season, the Hoyas led the Big East with 10 shutouts. In postseason play, their defense allowed only one goal in four games. For their defensive efforts, senior defender Brendan McDonough was named to the all-Big East second team and Nikopolidis was named to the Big East all-freshman team.
Junior defender Dylan Nealis stood out among a stellar defense. Nealis controlled the entire right side of the pitch both in attack and defense. Nealis constantly bombed forward on the right wing, wreaking havoc on opposing defenses. In the NCAA tournament game against West Virginia, the majority of the Hoyas’ attacks flowed through Nealis, and he scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Unsurprisingly, Nealis was named all-Big East first team and received the Big East Defender of the Year award.
Overall, three Hoyas were named to the all-Big East first team. In addition, two were named to the all-Big East second team and the Big East all-freshman Team. The Hoyas will lose six players to graduation, including four starters. However, with Dodson, Nealis and Achara returning, the future looks bright for Georgetown men’s soccer in 2019.