It took more than 110 minutes of play to decide the winner in the men’s soccer Big East Championship match between Georgetown and Xavier. Unfortunately for the Hoyas (13-2-3, 6-1-1 Big East), it was the Musketeers (9-3-6, 4-1-3 Big East) who emerged victorious, 5-4 on penalties.
Coming into the game ranked No. 3 in the country, Georgetown hoped to cap off a dominant season with a win in the Big East Championship — its first since 2021 — followed by a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Georgetown did not meet these goals at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., however, as a disciplined and tireless Xavier team stifled the Hoyas’ championship ambitions.
Georgetown largely controlled the tempo in the first half, setting up camp in Xavier’s defensive half and using a high press to win the ball back on defense.
However, the Hoyas did not capitalize on their sizable possession advantage in the first half. While sophomore forward and All-Big East first team honoree Jacob Murrell created a shot from outside the box, the Musketeer goalkeeper comfortably saved it. Junior defender and fellow All-Big East first team selection Kieran Sargeant hit a header which a Xavier defender blocked.
Despite relying on counterattacks to generate offense, Xavier almost got on the scoreboard in minute 24, when a Musketeer forward’s header off a cross forced Hoya senior and Big East Goalkeeper of the Year Ryan Schewe — another All-Big East first-team selection — to make a reflex save.
The teams headed into halftime with the score deadlocked at 0-0. Georgetown, for all their possession time, had few goal-scoring chances to speak of. On the other sideline, though the Musketeers had successfully absorbed most of the Hoyas’ attacks, they had been nearly a non-factor on the offensive end to that point.
From the opening whistle of the second half, it was clear that the Musketeers were not content to sit back and let the Hoyas dictate the game. The second half was more evenly balanced than the first, but goalscoring opportunities were just as few and far between.
Georgetown’s best chance of the second half came with just over 12 minutes to go, as junior midfielder Blaine Mabie fired a shot from inside the box just to the left of the goal.
On the other end, with just over a minute to play in the game, Xavier nearly won it when a cross found a Musketeers forward just outside the six-yard box. He was unable to get his body over the ball, however, as the shot sailed well over the crossbar, much to the relief of the Georgetown team.
As the game moved into two 10-minute overtime periods, Xavier maintained a low defensive block, aiming to make it to penalties, and made few attempts to advance the ball into Georgetown’s defensive half. The Hoyas read their opponents’ strategy but still looked too tentative and unimaginative on offense to pose a real threat to the Musketeers’ stout defense.
Just as in regulation, overtime was a scrappy, tense affair that ended 0-0, leaving the capacity crowd, composed overwhelmingly of Georgetown fans, on the edge of their seats as the game moved into a decisive penalty shootout.
In penalties, both teams scored four out of the first five, with each goalkeeper saving one penalty apiece. Ultimately, in sudden death, Xavier scored their penalty while senior midfielder Trevor Burns saw his saved, handing the game and championship to the Musketeers.
The Musketeers displayed impressive resilience en route to their first-ever Big East Championship. Despite losing several of their starting defenders to injury throughout the game, Xavier was able to maintain the same intensity and stinginess on the defensive end that continually frustrated Georgetown.
Head Coach Brian Wiese applauded Xavier after the game and looked ahead to the NCAA tournament.
“A lot of credit has to go to Xavier, they weren’t at 100 percent, and they managed it really well. Xavier executed their game plan, and this was one of the few times we’ve been shut out all year,” Wiese told Georgetown Athletics after the game. “But this was really good preparation for what the NCAA tournament is going to be and we’re excited for the draw tomorrow and hoping to have an extended postseason run.”
Georgetown will hope to bounce back when they face off in an upcoming round of the NCAA tournament next week.