FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/ THE HOYA Junior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry has featured in a defense that has averaged just 0.60 goals allowed per game.
Junior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry has featured in a defense that has averaged just 0.60 goals allowed per game.

The No. 8 Georgetown men’s soccer team (12-4-4, 7-3-1 Big East) lost in the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the second straight year, falling 1-0 to the No. 11 Xavier Musketeers (14-6-2, 7-2-2 Big East) on Friday evening in PPL Park in Philadelphia. The eight-seeded Hoyas will next Sunday in the second round of the NCAA tournament against the winner of Old Dominion (12-6-1, 7-3-1 Conference USA) and St. Francis, Brooklyn College (11-5-4, 4-1-2 Northeast).

“I think you have to give a lot of credit to Xavier. I think Xavier was really good on the day. We watch a lot of video on Xavier and see them a lot as a conference opponent, and that was maybe the best I have seen Xavier play,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.

Georgetown last played Xavier on Oct. 29 and won that defensive struggle on an overtime penalty kick. As Friday’s match started, it looked as if Georgetown would grab the victory in regular time. It had the ball in Xavier’s half for much of the first 45 minutes, and crosses from wing players senior midfielder Austin Martz and junior defenders Josh Turnley and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry seemed sure to create a goal.

Despite outplaying the Musketeers, the Hoyas could not translate their performance into shots on goal. Senior midfielder and co-captain Tyler Rudy forced Xavier’s only save of the half early in the 12th minute, when he shot from well outside the 18-yard box. Sophomore forward Brett Campbell had the best opportunity of the half, with a chance to tap in a cross into an open net in the 43rd minute, but was whistled offside.

“It was a game where neither team was really creating a whole lot of chances at goal,” Wiese said. “It was a game about who was going to pick up second balls and who was able to play in the other team’s half.”

In the second half, the Georgetown offense ground to a halt. Xavier was able to string together more passes and hold the ball, and Georgetown’s high-pressing defense began to pay off less and less. For their part, the Musketeers began to test the Hoyas defense, but neither side seemed to hold an advantage until the 64th minute.

Xavier scored the only goal of the game 19 minutes into the second half. Freshman defender Cory Brown initiated a give-and-go at the top of Georgetown’s 18-yard box. He sped by Rudy, who had been marking the Xavier defender, and received the ball behind the defense. Brown took the ball to the end line and crossed back in front of goal, where sophomore forward Jalen Brown easily found the back of the net.

“Their goal fundamentally came off of poor clearances. They picked it up, and it was a really well-taken goal on their end,” Wiese said.

That well-worked goal would prove to be one of the few moments of offensive production in the entire half, for either side. Turnley found himself in space in the 67th minute but missed his shot high, and Xavier had a series of dangerous shots in the 78th minute. Georgetown pressed for the equalizer, especially in the last 10 minutes of the match, but the 1-0 score held until the final whistle.

“I don’t think we really responded as I had hoped we would,” Wiese said. “I don’t think we were as sharp. A lot of our guys were not firing on all cylinders, and [Xavier] is such a hard-working, disciplined group that they took advantage.”

Xavier went on to lose in Sunday’s Big East championship game against No. 23 Providence by a 2-1 score line.

The loss put the Hoyas in an unsure position in terms of their NCAA tournament bid. Georgetown is ranked seventh in Rating Percentage Index, which is based on record and strength of schedule, but has struggled to defeat top opponents at times this season. The selection committee, however, rewarded the team for its tough schedule, placing the Hoyas as the eighth seed in the 48-team tournament. This means that the team will have a first-round bye and will play the winner of the Old Dominion-St. Francis game Thursday evening. In the meantime, Wiese and his team will be working to improve on Friday’s performance.

“From our end, as coaches, we are taking a good, hard look at how we are playing and what we are doing,” Wiese said. “We have to spend this week making some adjustments moving forward so that we are putting ourselves in a good position to be playing the game how we want to play and not be dictated to.”

The Hoyas will either host Old Dominion or St. Francis on Sunday at Shaw Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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