At Shaw Field on Saturday, Sept. 25, Dartmouth proved no match for the No. 1 Georgetown men’s soccer team, who earned a 3-0 victory.
From kickoff, Georgetown (7-0-0, 1-0-0 Big East) relentlessly attacked Dartmouth’s (0-5-0) defense. In the 10th minute, sophomore midfielder Chris Hegardt lofted a free kick into the back of the box, which junior defender Daniel Wu headed in front of the goal. Junior midfielder Dante Polvara seized the opportunity and volleyed the ball past Big Green senior goalkeeper Alex Budnik, finding the bottom right corner of the goal and giving the Hoyas an early 1-0 lead.
The Hoyas continued to apply pressure and exposed the Big Green’s defense again in the 12th minute. Georgetown senior forward Zach Riviere raced past Dartmouth senior defender Jordan Bailon to the top of the box and from well behind midfield, Wu booted the ball to him. Riviere took it in stride and struck it past the diving body of Budnik into the goal, putting Georgetown up 2-0.
Scoring two early goals was essential to ensuring the Hoyas’ victory, according to Georgetown Head Coach Brian Wiese.
“Getting that cushion was hugely important,” Wiese said in a postgame interview. “It takes a lot of the pressure off of a game like this when you can get the lead early.”
The Big Green attempted to ease their defensive woes late in the first half. They packed the backline, preventing Georgetown from advancing toward the goal. This rendered Dartmouth’s offense ineffective, and whenever they crossed midfield with the ball, they were met by a swarm of Hoya defenders.
In the final minutes of the first half, Dartmouth appeared to be gaining momentum. On multiple occasions, junior forward David Alino pushed the ball into the box and took shots on goal. Georgetown graduate goalkeeper Ethan Koehler, determined to preserve the shutout, made multiple saves, including one in which he acrobatically soared through the air to deny Alino’s goal attempt.
These saves allowed Georgetown to keep Dartmouth scoreless in the first half, which was a key to their victory, according to Wiese.
“Koehler made a really important save right before the half to keep it at 2-0, because 2-1 going into halftime is a very different feeling,” Wiese said.
Following halftime, Georgetown refused to slow down its offensive attack. In the 62nd minute, Riviere passed the ball to junior forward Will Sands, who drove down the left wing, drawing defenders into the corner with him. He then beautifully crossed the ball in front of the goal and senior midfielder Sean Zawadzki tapped it in for the score, making it 3-0 in the Hoyas’ favor.
The two teams traded jabs for the rest of the match, but neither could muster a goal and the score remained 3-0 to the final whistle.
Koehler helped Georgetown secure its fifth clean sheet victory of the season in just seven matches. The Hoyas currently rank fourth in the country in goals against average with an average of just .286 goals allowed per game.
The Hoyas outshot the Big Green 16-9 and converted all but one of their shots on goal. Koehler had a masterful game, shutting out Dartmouth by blocking all five of its shots on goal.
Following the match, the team kept things in perspective for the rest of the season. With Big East play continuing Oct. 2, Coach Wiese knew his team had to maintain its intensity to succeed, especially with the added pressure of being the No. 1 team in the nation.
“Let’s see if we can get on a run in the league to put ourselves in the playoffs,” Wiese said. “Being number one is a challenge for the fact that you know the other team is going to be a bit more excited to try to notch that upset and so you are going to get the best effort from every team you play.”
Georgetown looks to maintain their national ranking and undefeated record against DePaul (5-2-0, 1-0-0 Big East) on Oct. 2 at Shaw Field. The match will begin at 1 p.m.