The third-seeded Georgetown men’s soccer team scored an impressive five goals against unseeded Pittsburgh on Nov. 24 to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 5-0 win for the Hoyas (16-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) over the Panthers (10-8-2, 4-3-1 ACC) is their largest margin of victory to date in the NCAA Tournament, solidifying the Blue and Gray as a powerful offensive force going into the Round of 16.
Having already won both the Big East regular-season and tournament championships, Georgetown returned to Shaw Field to host Pitt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament after receiving a first-round bye.
From the whistle, the Hoyas started fast and immediately took the game to the Panthers, scoring three goals and recording six shots and one corner before allowing the Panthers a chance on net. Junior forward Derek Dodson expressed that the Blue and Gray’s strategy going into the matchup depended on dominating the game early and setting the pace of play.
“What we were focusing on for this game was coming out and setting the tone and getting the boys going early so that our subs can come out and keep the same tempo,” Dodson said. “If we can do that for 90 minutes, we’re going to be a pretty hard team to beat.”
Dodson was instrumental in getting the scoring going early for Georgetown when he assisted senior defender Dylan Nealis in the fifth minute. Dodson received the ball on the right side of the box and played a pass to Nealis, who was making an overlapping run, freeing himself from the Pitt defenders. Nealis then fired a shot on target to beat the Panthers’ goalkeeper Arie Ammann on his near post, giving the Hoyas a 1-0 lead.
In the 13th minute, Dodson scored for himself following a brilliant bit of individual skill. Dodson received an assist from junior midfielder Jacob Montes and navigated around the Panther defense to slip a ball inside the right post, propelling Georgetown to a 2-0 lead with 32 minutes remaining in the opening half. When asked about his goal, Dodson spoke about taking on the Pitt defense to get a clear shot on net.
“I saw the right side center back step high so I made the run in behind him and Montes slipped in a pass,” Dodson said. “Number four did a good job covering my left foot, so I cut back and when they both kept running, I was like, ‘Alright I’ll try to shoot it far post.’ I caught it pretty well, and it just bent in.”
Following Dodson’s goal, Georgetown continued to pressure Pitt’s defense and eventually scored a third goal in the 20th minute. Junior midfielder Paul Rothrock curled a free kick from the left side into a packed box, looking to connect with teammates camped in front of the net. The ball took a deflection off a Pitt defender and bounced past the Panther keeper to give Georgetown a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Panthers had a promising opportunity to grab a goal back in the 42nd minute when defender Bryce Washington had a free header in the box following a corner. Washington’s header went just wide of the post and sent the Panthers to the locker room down by three, despite it being their best opportunity in a first half dominated by the Hoyas.
In a suffocating first-half performance, Georgetown outshot Pitt 7-2 and held the Panthers to just one shot on net while putting five shots on frame themselves.
The Hoyas started the second half with similar intensity to the first. Rothrock proved an especially strong offensive threat, creating trouble for the Panthers’ defense down the left wing as the Hoyas threatened to notch a fourth goal, though no such goal took place on this attack.
Nealis talked after the game about the importance of the Hoyas maintaining their level of play in the second half to increase their three-goal lead against an opponent as resilient as the Panthers.
“We knew in the second half we had to carry that [performance] over. We knew they were going to come out strong and firey. They’ve come back from 3-0 before in the regular season, so we wanted to put it to bed early,” said Nealis.
In the 66th minute, the Hoyas added to their lead courtesy of Nealis’ second goal of the game. Freshman forward Will Sands beat a Pitt defender and fired a shot on net that ricocheted off the post. Another Pitt defender attempted to clear the ball but sent it straight to Nealis. After taking a few touches, Nealis chipped the ball over Ammann from over 20 yards out to give the Hoyas a 4-0 lead.
In the 82nd minute, the Hoyas added a fifth goal when junior midfielder Foster McCune scored off a deflected shot from freshman midfielder Aidan Rocha. The Blue and Gray earned a chance to put away a sixth goal in the 86th minute when Georgetown drew a foul to send Dodson to the penalty mark. Dodson’s attempt was saved by Ammann to keep the lead at five.
The Hoyas closed out the game to secure a 5-0 victory and earn their 12th shutout of the season. Georgetown outshot Pitt 20-4 on the day in a dominating performance, with 12 being on target compared to the Panthers’ two.
Freshman goalkeeper Tomas Romero made two saves in net and secured his eighth win of the season, while Ammann recorded seven saves.
Georgetown next looks to avenge its only loss of the season when it hosts Louisville at 12 p.m. at Shaw Field in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Dec. 1.