The No. 13 Georgetown men’s soccer team stayed in the hunt for a Big East regular season championship when it beat the Xavier University Musketeers on Saturday at Shaw Field.
As has been the norm at home this season, the Hoyas (11-1-1, 4-0-1 Big East) got off to a quick start, putting the Musketeers’ backline under pressure. The coaching staff emphasized how the starts of games helped Georgetown maintain its current hot streak.
“We have been able to come here and start games well pretty consistently, and that makes a huge difference for where we are. It’s a home venue. The guys are comfortable here,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.
After concluding its nonconference schedule against Maryland, Georgetown returned to Big East play as it hosted Xavier (5-6-1, 1-4-0 Big East).
In the 12th minute, junior midfielder Jacob Montes played a through ball that split two Xavier defenders and sent senior forward Achara in on net. However, Achara’s shot from the left side of the box went wide of the far post.
Moments later, though, the Hoyas were able to grab an early lead courtesy of Montes. A ball crossed in from the right wing and found senior midfielder JB Fischer in the box. Fischer’s shot was well-saved by the Musketeers’ goalkeeper, but the rebound found its way to Montes, who had an easy tap-in to give the Blue and Gray a 1-0 lead.
When describing his sixth goal of the season, which leads all Hoyas, Montes said in an interview with The Hoya that it was a relatively simple goal, exemplifying his confidence.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time. JB had a really good hit and the goalie made a nice save and I was there and got the tap-in,” Montes said.
After the opening goal, Georgetown continued to search for another and had many chances to double its lead throughout the rest of the first half. Junior forward Derek Dodson sent a cross in from the right wing that went through the box untouched and nearly found Achara at the back post. Minutes later, freshman forward Will Sands hit a cross in from the left wing that arrived at the foot of sophomore forward Zach Riviere, about six yards out from goal. Riviere’s ensuing header was low and powerful but hit the outside of the post and bounced out of play.
In the 38th minute, the Musketeers had their first real chance of the game by way of a throw-in. Using its size advantage, with the team relying heavily on its physical strength and height more than precise skills, Xavier found its striker six yards from net off a long throw-in. However, his header was off target and went over the crossbar.
The two teams would go to the half with Georgetown leading 1-0 and outshooting Xavier 9-2. After the intermission, the Musketeers started the second half well with lots of upfield passing, looking to gain a foothold in the match. To counteract this, Wiese began subbing early in the second half.
“Today, we didn’t start the second half well. Xavier can get a grip on a game like that and you have to start absorbing. Today we were able to say that ‘I didn’t like how the first 10 minutes of the second half went, so I can make a change,’” Wiese said.
In the 57th minute, the Musketeers had their best opportunity to equalize the match after a quick run made their midfielder Derrick Otim free in the box. Otim’s shot was powerful but straight at sophomore goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis, who made a solid save. The rebound bounced straight to another Musketeers attacker who hit a second shot that sailed far over the crossbar.
“Goalkeepers have been really steady. The goalkeepers have handled their business. There was a scary moment today, and Giannis handles it,” Wiese said.
After the first 10 minutes of the second half, however, Georgetown once again started gaining control of the match. In the 64th minute, Dodson took a shot from 18 yards out that came close but went just wide of the net. In the 70th minute, Fischer played a ball from midfield that found Montes in the box six yards out from goal. Montes was unable to direct his volley from a tight angle onto net, though, and the shot went wide.
In the 74th minute, the Hoyas had their best chance of the half to double their lead following a corner. The corner was played in toward junior defender Rio Hope-Gund, who flicked the ball to senior defender Dylan Nealis. From only a few yards out, Nealis had a fantastic chance for a tap-in to give the Hoyas a 2-0 lead. However, Xavier goalkeeper Matthew Rosenberg made a quick reaction save for the Musketeers to deny Nealis and keep the game at 1-0.
In the 86th minute, Rosenberg once again came up clutch for Xavier to stop a flurry of Georgetown chances. Dodson hit a shot that was saved by Rosenberg diving to his right. The rebound went to junior midfielder Jack Beer, but his shot was directly at Rosenberg who once again made the save.
The game concluded with the Hoyas earning a hard-fought 1-0 victory in which they controlled a large majority of the game and prevented Xavier from having many chances going forward.
“Xavier is always a really tough opponent for us and they match up in a way that makes it hard for us, and I thought our guys fundamentally did a good job over 90 minutes of minimizing their strengths. They’re great on set pieces, and we didn’t concede a single corner,” Wiese said.
Overall, Georgetown outshot Xavier 24-7 and had nine corners while limiting Xavier to zero. Nikopolidis made four saves for the Hoyas and picked up his sixth win of the season in net. This game also marked the fifth shutout in a row for Georgetown, defensively.
Georgetown will next travel to New York to face St. John’s on Wednesday in a pivotal Big East matchup that will decide who is in the driver’s seat for the Big East regular season championship during the final few weeks of the season.