After a tightly contested first half, No. 8 Georgetown (7-1-1, 3-0-0 Big East) put four goals past the Butler Bulldogs (2-6-1, 1-2-0 Big East) on its way to a 5-0 win in its Big East home opener. With the win, the Hoyas extended its undefeated streak in conference play, securing first place within the Big East.
Despite controlling play for much of the first half, the Hoyas initially struggled to break through. Rather than build attacks from the back, Georgetown often looked to play long balls for sophomore striker Jacob Murrell to chase onto, who used his pace and strength to gain possession and find teammates. While this approach often ceded possession to the Bulldogs, Murrell and sophomore midfielder Zach Zengue led a disciplined and energetic counter-press to regain the ball high up the pitch.
The Hoyas also looked to push the ball up the pitch on counterattacks through junior left-back Kieran Sargeant and senior midfielder Kyle Linhares, deployed on the right this game by Head Coach Brian Wiese. Both players attacked aggressively down their flanks, sending a constant barrage of crosses into the box that troubled the Butler defense.
However, it was only in the 31st minute when the Hoyas found a breakthrough. Sargeant, having drifted inside, played a one-two with senior forward Marlon Tabora and slotted a through ball to Murrell between two Butler defenders. Murrell poked the ball around the goalkeeper, and Tabora arrived in the box to tap the ball home.
The Hoyas continued to threaten with attacks led by Linhares and Sargeant, but the match remained knotted at 1-0 when the half-time whistle sounded.
Energized by their coach’s half-time team talk, the Bulldogs came out aggressively in the second half. Butler forwards Palmer Ault and Ryan Hannosh began to carry the ball more regularly into the final third, and the Bulldogs continued to push forward.
Their aggression was penalized, however, by Murrell, who chased after a long ball in the 52nd minute and forced Butler defender Alejandro Morozo-Maza into an error. After being played through by Zengue, Murrell brilliantly evaded multiple Butler defenders and played a sharp cross into the box, which Butler defender Graham Rieg put into his own net.
Nevertheless, the Bulldogs refused to go down without a fight. Butler continued to throw everything they had at the Georgetown defense. In the 57th minute, an impressive run by Hannosh gave him the opportunity to cross the ball to Ault, but the Bulldogs’ leading scorer was unable to bring the ball under his control and Georgetown was able to clear it away.
Georgetown responded with a series of devastating counterattacks, and in the 67th minute, Tabora surged down the right flank to find first-year midfielder Eric Howard in the box, who converted calmly into the bottom corner for his first goal as a Hoya to push the lead to three and put the match to bed.
The Hoyas continued to apply pressure and create chances, and in the 75th minute, Sargeant capitalized on a Butler giveaway deep in its own half to put in a cross for junior midfielder Cole Parete, whose well-timed run into the box allowed him to finish calmly. Six minutes later, junior defender Maximus Jennings tapped Howard’s cross in at the back post to wrap up a dominant victory for the Hoyas.
Although every Hoya contributed to the win, it is hard to look past Tabora as the man of the match. After coming onto the field, Tabora’s mix of pace and trickery energized the Hoyas’ attack and contributed to Georgetown’s win. Murrell, whose physicality proved too much for the Butler defense to handle, also had an impressive game.
Wiese told Georgetown Athletics that the team’s scoring depth has been the key to the Hoyas’ success.
“To have five different goal scorers is important for this team and has really been what this team is about this year,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas responded well to short rest in a 3-0 non-conference road win against a strong Princeton (3-4-1, 0-1-1 Ivy League) team on Tuesday and will return to the Hilltop against the University of Connecticut (6-4-0, 2-1-0 Big East) on Saturday at 1 p.m.