After trailing by one from the fourth minute of play, the No. 3 Georgetown men’s soccer team scored two late goals to secure a comeback win against No. 6 University of Washington on Dec. 7.
The Hoyas (18-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) hosted the Huskies (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12) in front of over 2,000 spectators in the first men’s quarterfinal game at Shaw Field since 2014. The Blue and Gray’s 2-1 victory marks the second time in program history that the team will advance to the College Cup.
Despite Georgetown striking first in its previous two NCAA Tournament games, it was Washington who grabbed the opening goal in the fourth minute. Following a ball played over the top from midfield, midfielder Jaret Townsend received the ball on the right side of the box. He quickly cut inside and dribbled toward the top of the box before firing off a shot that beat freshman goalkeeper Tomas Romero, flying into the top corner and giving the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.
Head Coach Brian Wiese recognized Washington’s successful start and acknowledged that the Huskies bested the Hoyas in much of the opening half.
“We lost the first 10 minutes badly. Scoreline aside, I thought they were doing what they wanted to do. We weren’t able to get a foothold in the game until maybe the 30th minute mark,” Wiese said.
As the half wore on, the action began to even out as both teams had decent looks on goal. The Hoyas had their first opportunity of the half in the 14th minute when sophomore midfielder Sean Zawadzki stole the ball from the Huskies midfield and hit a strike from 30 yards out that rattled off the crossbar.
In the 21st minute, Romero made two saves to keep the Huskies from grabbing a second goal. First, he denied Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Award Semifinalist Blake Bodily’s shot from close range. Soon after, Romero parried away a cross intended for Townsend at the six-yard box to keep the Blue and Gray within one.
In the waning moments of the first half, junior forward Jack Beer and sophomore forward Zach Riviere each had decent looks on goal but could not find the back of the net. The Hoyas entered halftime still trailing 0-1.
As they had done in the first, Washington started the second half in control of possession and looked dangerous going forward. Wiese saw Washington’s performances to start both halves as particularly threatening, hoping his team could control the Huskies’ offense in the opening minutes and gain momentum as the game went on.
“We felt that Washington is exceptionally good in the first parts of both halves. We also felt that they would loosen their grip at the end of both halves, which I think happened,” Wiese said. “I think today the guys had to be really patient with letting the game happen.”
Despite Washington’s dominant performance to open the half, the Hoyas began to take control with several offensive opportunities led by junior midfielder Jacob Montes. Montes spoke about his ability to power the Blue and Gray in the second half, crediting his positioning on the field and finding open space as key factors that allowed him to get on the ball more.
“I started shifting out more to the wide areas more [which] I don’t think they were handling as well. So once I was getting on the ball, it was a lot easier for me to make plays,” Montes said.
With their season hanging in the balance, Georgetown found the needed equalizer in the 72nd minute after Montes drew a foul while being brought down just outside the box. After earning the free kick, Montes stepped up and buried the set piece into the upper right-hand corner to tie the game.
Before taking the set piece, Montes knew he had to put the ball away to give the Blue and Gray a chance at a comeback victory.
“When I went down for the foul, I basically just took the ball. I was going to take control,” Montes said. “I just had to put it on target. And right when I hit it, I knew it was going in. It was such a good feeling when I heard the crowd.”
Montes has continuously capitalized in important moments throughout the season, leading the Hoyas in goals scored as the equalizer against Washington marked his 11th goal of the season.
Following the goal, Georgetown looked sharp and continued to press forward, searching for the winning goal. Utilizing the momentum from Montes’ goal in the 72nd minute, the Hoyas looked poised to notch their second goal of the Elite Eight matchup.
In the 76th minute, junior defender Rio Hope-Gund played a ball to junior forward Derek Dodson near midfield. Dodson ran into space toward the Huskies’ backline and powered a shot past a diving effort by the Huskies’ keeper Sam Fowler into the bottom left corner to give the Hoyas a 2-1 lead. With the goal, Dodson sits as the team’s second-leading scorer with 10 goals on the season.
In the waning minutes, the game became increasingly urgent and physical, with Georgetown’s senior forward Achara and freshman midfielder Aidan Rocha earning yellow cards in the last minute of play. Ultimately, the Hoyas kept their composure and held on for a 2-1 victory to remain alive in the NCAA Tournament.
After the game, Wiese praised his team’s instinct of continuing to rise to the occasion in big moments this season.
“I think the thing with our group this year again is that Jacob Montes stands up in a really critical moment and he executes a really good free kick,” Wiese said. “And then Derek, who didn’t play his best game, won the game. So that’s what it’s about in this stage, making plays when they need to be made.”
With this victory, the Hoyas advance to the College Cup Final Four for the second time in school history and the first time since 2012. Georgetown will next face No. 7 Stanford in Cary, N.C., on Friday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.