In its first Big East Conference game of the season, the Georgetown University men’s soccer team fell to the Xavier Musketeers at Shaw Field.
Xavier (3-0-3, 1-0 Big East) entered the game with a stout defense, having conceded one goal in their opening five games of the season.
The majority of the first half remained a stalemate as both teams attempted to figure the opposition out.
Head Coach Brian Wiese expected a tough opening 45 minutes.
“The first half was how you think it should be. There’s not a lot of chances really for either team. There are just a couple moments,” Coach Wiese said in an interview with The Hoya.
Georgetown (4-2-1, 0-1 Big East) generated its first chance nine minutes into the game as sophomore defender Sean O’Hearn started a combination play and broke Xavier’s high pressure.
Graduate student midfielder Matt Ledder found space on the left wing and lobbed a cross into the middle of the box, but no Hoya could get on the end of it.
With just over a minute left in the first half, junior forward Riley Strassner was brought down in the box and earned a penalty for the Hoyas.
Senior midfielder Kyle Zajec showed composure as he stepped up to the penalty spot and fired the ball past Xavier’s diving keeper into the left corner of the net.
Georgetown held onto its lead for the remaining minute of the half and entered halftime with a 1-0 lead.
As soon as the whistle blew to begin the second half, Coach Wiese noticed a change in Xavier’s tactics.
“The goal probably opened [the game] up a little bit. They had to take a few more chances and do a few more things,” Coach Wiese said.
Georgetown generated consecutive chances five minutes into the second half, starting with sophomore forward Derek Dodson, who played the ball to Ledder down the left side. Ledder made a run to beat his defender and struck a shot low and hard, but Xavier’s keeper made a solid save.
On the ensuing corner, Zajec found senior defender Peter Schropp eight yards out from the net. However, Schropp could not get off a good shot, and Xavier’s goalkeeper made a comfortable save.
In the 65th minute, Xavier equalized against the run of play and tied the game at one.
Xavier took a 2-1 lead just 13 minutes later. Following a set piece, Nikopolidis struggled to deal with a cross in the box and was not able to punch the ball clear.
The Musketeers capitalized on the mistake as Jacob Goodall scored on the open net.
Coach Wiese discussed Xavier’s set piece proficiency.
“They’re just good at [set pieces]. We know they’re good at them. Our guys need to be able to handle them a little bit better,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas quickly answered with a goal of their own. Having already generated a few chances off Zajec’s set pieces, the Hoyas won a corner in the 85th minute. Zajec’s corner found the head of sophomore defender Rio Hope-Gund, who headed the ball home and tied the game at two.
Georgetown’s excitement was short-lived as Xavier scored the game-winner just over a minute later.
Again off a set piece, Matt Nance sent the ball into the box and found Tomek Pauer who clinically headed in Xavier’s third goal of the day.
Coach Wiese explained that the Hoyas’ defensive issues cost them the game.
“The game-winning goal was probably pretty disappointing on our end. That’s Xavier. If you’re going to beat Xavier, you have to lock up defending set pieces really well, and at the end of the day, we didn’t,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas pressed heavily for an equalizer during the final four minutes, but had little success as they ultimately fell to the Musketeers 3-2.
Following the game, Coach Wiese expressed his disappointment in Georgetown’s mentality in the second half.
“I was really disappointed in our older players,” Wiese said. “I thought some of our older players didn’t do what they did against Stanford where they understood that you’re playing against a top team and if you take a break for a second, that you can easily lose the game at any moment.”
Despite the loss, Wiese still has confidence that the Hoyas can have a special season if they can figure out the intangible side of soccer.
“I do believe that this team has all the pieces to be a special team, but that intangible right there is the one that if we get it right, we can be special. If we don’t get it right, we’ll lose a lot of games in disappointing fashion,” Wiese said.
Next up, Georgetown will play DePaul on Shaw Field Friday, Sept. 21.