The Georgetown men’s soccer team won its first back-to-back Big East tournament championships in program history on Sunday, recording a 2-0 shutout against Marquette.
In front of a large home crowd at Shaw Field, Georgetown (12-4-3, 6-2-1 Big East) looked to respond to its 0-0 draw against Marquette (7-9-3, 5-3-1 Big East) earlier in the season.
The Golden Eagles started the game strongly as they recorded multiple shots in the opening five minutes and pinned the Hoyas in their own half.
However, in the 11th minute, the Hoyas earned their second corner of the match. Senior midfielder Kyle Zajec whipped a ball into the box towards senior defender Brendan McDonough, who made a run from the top of the box. McDonough rose up and hit a powerful header into the left corner of the net to give Georgetown a 1-0 lead.
Following the early goal, Georgetown began to control possession. As the Hoyas pushed for the second goal, they dictated the pace of play and allowed the Golden Eagles little time on the ball.
McDonough said that Georgetown’s game plan was to keep Marquette’s defense under constant pressure.
“We wanted to press them. We knew that if we could press their center backs, they could give us the ball. So we decided to press them like we were pressing every team and it worked out,” McDonough said in an interview with The Hoya.
Midway through the half, the Hoyas had an opportunity to double their lead when sophomore defender Sean O’Hearn played junior forward Achara in on net. However, Marquette’s senior goalkeeper Luis Barraza, the Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, dealt with the danger well and made a save on Achara.
In the final five minutes of the half, Marquette started to once again exert pressure on Georgetown’s defense. The Golden Eagles had several set pieces from the left side of the field to end the half. However, the Hoyas’ defense dealt with the situations and preserved their 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
Head Coach Brian Wiese said that Marquette was dangerous on the offensive end throughout the match.
“[Marquette] is a good soccer playing team. They’ve got guys that can really play and cause problems. I thought their left side was really good. They caused us real problems coming up the left side with how they’re built. Credit to them,” Wiese said in an interview with The Hoya.
The second half started similar to the later stages of the first half, with Marquette playing on the front foot. However, the Hoyas’ backline once again held steady and prevented the Golden Eagles from generating chances to score.
Wiese praised the performance of his defense.
“I think our back-four has really come into their own over the season. [Peter] Schropp and McDonough are really steady and solid. They just know how to win,” Wiese said.
Midway through the second half, Marquette had its best chance to score of the game. Marquette’s junior forward Connor Alba hit a curling shot towards the far post, but it went wide of the net, and the Hoyas continued to hold their lead.
In the 70th minute, Achara scored his seventh goal of the season to double the Hoyas’ lead. Junior forward Riley Strassner sent a pass that took a deflection into the path of Achara six yards from goal. Achara slotted the ball away to give the Hoyas a 2-0 lead.
Following Achara’s goal, the Hoyas preserved their shutout in the final twenty minutes of the match and the game ended 2-0. The win marked Georgetown’s third Big East Tournament championship in the last four years.
The Hoyas’ experience and leadership allowed them to continue their Big East success, Wiese said.
“It always comes down to the old guys. The leaders have done a great job. This is their third win of a Big East Tournament in their careers. Its three out of four. They’ve just been around it enough. So, you can’t do anything about three years of good experience coming into something like this,” Wiese said.
Georgetown was outshot 10 to nine and had six corner kicks to Marquette’s eight. Freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis got the victory and earned his eighth shutout of the year. The Hoyas did not concede a goal in either game of the Big East Tournament.
Next up, the Hoyas will continue their postseason run as the 13th overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. They are the only Big East member in the field of 48 teams.
Georgetown will host the winner of the matchup between the West Virginia Mountaineers (13-6-0, 5-0-0 MAC) and the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (13-5-1, 6-2-0 NEC) in the round of 32. The game will be held at Shaw Field on Sunday, Nov. 18.