Facing a team that was ranked among the top 10 in the nation, Georgetown needed a strong showing to solidify its run of form against tough opponents.
The No. 16 Georgetown men’s soccer team (4-1-1, 1-0 Big East) secured the win over the No. 12 JMU Dukes (4-2-2, 0-1 SBC) in dominant fashion, maintaining possession effortlessly and capitalizing on defensive gaps to thwart its strong opposition and secure a 2-0 score.
The Hoyas emerged highly motivated, employing a dynamic yet composed play style that coaxed excellence out of individual players. Overwhelmed by Georgetown’s penetrative passes, James Madison found itself defending for the majority of the game.
In the first 10 minutes of the game, the play was largely concentrated in the middle of the pitch, with no goal chances on either end. Georgetown was less controlled than usual in its midfield play, with many of their passes intercepted by JMU’s solid, defensive framework.
Though the Hoyas’ plan to sit high up the pitch was spotty in the beginning, it soon proved its worth in the 14th minute. Sophomore midfielder Diego Letayf lobbed a high-arched cross from the halfway line into sophomore striker Jacob Murrell’s run at the top of the box, catching the Duke defense off guard. Letting the ball bounce once, Murrell then slotted it into the goal with a composed, one-touch finish. The goal marked Murrell’s fifth goal of the season, prolonging his exceptional run of form as well as the team’s season-long streak of scoring in the first 30 minutes of every match this year.
Catching momentum, senior midfielder Kyle Linhares initiated a sequence of dynamic attacks, seeking to double and effectively cushion the Hoya’s lead before halftime. Midway through the first half, senior midfielder Trevor Burns won the ball in JMU’s own third, quickly passing it to senior forward Marlon Tabora, who then laid it off to Murrell for an open look on goal. Fortunately for the JMU fans, a JMU defender slid in the way at the last second to block and deflect Murrell’s shot away from the goal.
In minute 25, Tabora put pressure on the Dukes’ defensive line following a diverted cross, successfully seizing the ball on the top right corner of the box. Guiding it past the last defender, Tabora nailed a shot against the crossbar, evoking a loud gasp from the crowd.
In the last 10 minutes of the first period, junior defender Kieran Sargeant pinged a lateral pass right to the front of the goal, which could have easily resulted in a second goal had a Georgetown player been in position for the tap in.
Following Murrell’s opening goal, the game had quickly transitioned from a conservative, possession-oriented match to an aggressive, offensive-oriented dynamic. As Georgetown was sharper and quicker on the ball, smelling a second goal, JMU was stretched out, expending a lot of energy. The Dukes were only trailing by one goal when the halftime whistle blared following the myriad of Hoya chances for an additional goal.
After halftime, JMU returned onto the pitch with a rejuvenated sense of hope. Within the first 15 minutes, the Dukes put up three shots. One of them — a long shot attempt from outside of the box — almost tied the game and was barely tipped over the crossbar by sophomore keeper Tenzing Manske.
In the 60th minute, the Dukes faced difficulties when junior midfielder Joe Buck clipped a ball into the box from the left-hand side of the field. Murrell and two Duke defenders were contesting for the ball when it was redirected to the inside of the right post by a JMU player, ricocheting into the net. Doubling the lead for Georgetown, JMU had no choice but to proceed with urgency.
The rest of the game, the Hoyas and Dukes alternated waves of attacks. While JMU had some promising attacks, time, combined with Georgetown’s robust and sturdy defense, precluded the guests from initiating a comeback.
With the second home victory of the season, the Hoyas extended their overall record to 4-1-1, reclaiming first place within the Big East’s East Division. Georgetown is reasserting itself as a Big East championship contender looking to make a deep postseason run with the statement game, putting a lopsided loss against Stanford and a disappointing, drama-ridden tie against Fordham behind them.
Following the win, Murrell had extended his goal lead to five, with Kyle Linhares trailing behind him by two goals. Furthermore, both Letayf and first-year midfielder Eric Howard made it on the season’s stats sheet with their first assist contributions. Manske laid off an impressive performance in his second-ever start for the Hoyas, securing a clean sheet. The attackers’ remarkable consistency combined with a dynamic midfield and reliable defensive line were instrumental to this victory, attesting to the well-rounded nature of Georgetown’s roster.
Reflecting on the win, Head Coach Brian Wiese said the team’s attacking mentality was vital to the Hoyas’ success.
“You’re never sure what kind of performance you’re going to get from the guys, but I thought we competed well, fought well and had a couple of heady goals,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas are looking to add to their two-game win streak against the Xavier Musketeers (4-2-1, 1-0 Big East) on the road next Saturday. Unbeaten at home, this game will test the Hoyas’ confidence and resilience.