Senior midfielder Kyle Zajec had four goals and seven assists in his final collegiate season, both career highs for him.
Sophia Nunn/The Hoya

The Georgetown men’s soccer team fell 0-1 to Michigan State on Cooper Field in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, concluding the 2018 campaign for the Hoyas, who won their second straight Big East Tournament title.

Georgetown (13-5-3, 6-2-1 Big East) started off on the front foot as junior forward Achara had a chance to give the team an early lead. However, his volley sailed over the crossbar and the game remained scoreless.

Georgetown continued to attack Michigan State’s (13-4-4, 4-2-2 Big Ten) defense in the opening minutes, threatening Michigan State’s senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague. Sophomore forward Derek Dodson hit a sliding shot that Hague knocked away. The Spartans immediately countered and had their first chance to score of the game, but their ensuing shot hit the side of the post.

After the frenetic opening minutes, both teams settled into the game. Georgetown and Michigan State had long bouts of possession but were unable to create opportunities on offense due to the physical nature of the game.

In the 45th minute, Michigan State scored the opening goal. Sophomore midfielder Michael Miller received the ball outside the box and fired a shot that beat freshman goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis, bouncing off the far post before ending up in the back of the net. The goal marked the first that the Hoyas conceded in postseason play and gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead heading into the half.

Head Coach Brian Wiese emphasized the importance of scoring the first goal in the match, and said that Michigan State was strong defensively after taking the lead.

“Against Michigan State, the first goal is really important and credit to them they make it hard after that,” Wiese said in a postgame press conference. “One goal was maybe what the game was going to be about today and it was unfortunate that we came out on the wrong side.”

13 minutes into the second half, Georgetown had its best chance to score, as Dodson hit a header from close range that sailed just over the crossbar.  Set featured image

As the half wore on, Michigan State continued to pack in tightly defensively and frustrated Georgetown going forward.

With five minutes to play, the Hoyas had their final opportunity of the game to score when Dodson received a pass in the Spartans’ box. However, his shot was cleared off the line by Michigan State’s defense. Michigan State held on for a 1-0 shutout victory to advance to the Elite Eight.

With the loss, Georgetown’s record at Cooper Field this season dropped to 0-3. The Hoyas outshot the Spartans 17 to nine, but recorded three shots on target. Nikopolidis took the loss in net with three saves.

Despite the loss, Georgetown concluded the 2018 season as Big East Champions for the third time in four years. The Hoyas will lose seven players to graduation including two captains:Senior defender Brendan McDonough and senior midfielder Kyle Zajec.

Wiese said that the team will miss its senior leadership, and that the Hoyas had aspirations to advance farther in the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought we had a team that was a College Cup caliber team, and all of the credit for that goes to our older guys,” Wiese said.  “Our seniors did a great job pushing through a long hard season. We always had the pieces and we got better and better as the year went on. I’m frustrated that we’re not playing next weekend, but I’m pleased with the group. It’s always sad when it ends.”

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