The Georgetown men’s soccer team managed to eke out a 1-0 victory over the rival Syracuse Orange in a Friday night showdown in which defense reigned supreme.
The Hoyas’ three straight wins to start the season mark the team’s longest winning streak since 2019, when the team won six games in a row before going on to claim its first national championship later that season. Unlike No. 1 Georgetown’s (3-0-0) blowout win against previously-ranked Fordham, the Hoyas’ matchup against the Orange (1-2-0) proved to be a nail-biter.
Both defensive units played tremendously. Any attempts to score were quickly denied; at the end of the first half, neither Georgetown nor Syracuse had even registered a shot on goal. The Hoyas’ defense remained perfect in the second half, giving senior goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis nothing to save for the entire game. Georgetown recorded two shots on goal to Syracuse’s zero, despite the Orange taking twice as many shots as the Hoyas.
The Hoyas started the first half strong. Georgetown controlled the ball on Syracuse’s side of the field for much of the first five minutes. The Orange then settled in, and the game became a back-and-forth battle of attacks and counterattacks.
An early second-half goal by sophomore midfielder John Franks gave Georgetown the necessary brace to win. Franks has now scored two goals this season. Scoring against the Hoyas, however, has been a rarity during this short season: only one goal has been scored against Georgetown throughout four games, with Nikopolidis registering all three of the Hoyas’ shutouts.
Towards the end of the first half, the Hoyas found some success using their speed on the outside, regularly beating Syracuse defenders down the sideline. Yet Georgetown was unable to convert any of its crosses into goals. Throughout the first half, the Orange managed to get off three shot attempts compared to Georgetown’s one, but no shot by either team came close to threatening the goal.
The second half started off much like the first. The ball continuously switched possession in the midfield with the Hoyas unable to create any quality shot attempts. Finally, in the 58th minute of the match, the Syracuse defense cracked.
Junior midfielder Dante Polvara placed a precise through ball to Franks. With only the goal keeper to beat, Franks shot the ball just outside of Syracuse goalkeeper Russell Shealy’s lunging leg and into the back of the net.
Despite having the lead, the Hoyas continued to attack. Georgetown threatened with two quick corners, but neither ended in a shot opportunity. In the 76th minute, first-year forward Ronan Dillow found an opening in the defense, but he drove his shot straight into Shealy’s hands, giving him the only save of the day. Dillow’s shot would be the last shot attempted by the Hoyas for the remainder of the game.
While Georgetown struggled to create quality shot attempts, the ones taken were precise and on target. Of the three shots taken by the Hoyas, two were on goal. While the Orange mustered six shots, not a single one was on goal, proving that efficiency trumps quantity.
Corners proved to be a major difference in the match. Georgetown attempted eight corners to Syracuse’s two. While none of the corners led to goals, the consistent pressure on the Orange’s defense helped the Hoyas control the pace of the game.
As the game wore on, the Hoyas maintained possession of the ball for significant stretches of time, milking the clock ever closer to the final whistle. With time running out, the Orange began to push the ball up harder, searching for the equalizing goal.
The second half included a lot of physical play. Five yellow cards were given out: three to Georgetown and two to Syracuse. A red card on Orange defender Buster Sjoberg in the 88th minute did not help Syracuse’s chances. Now up an extra player, Georgetown easily ran off the last three minutes of the clock.