The Georgetown men’s soccer team’s season came down to a penalty kick shootout.
With No. 22 Virginia (12-6-3, 3-3-2 ACC), holding the 5-4 advantage, freshman midfielder and Big East Rookie of the Year Arun Basuljevic stepped up to the line needing to convert in order to keep Georgetown’s hopes alive. But Basuljevic was unable to connect, as his shot glanced off the post.
Senior midfielder and co-captain Tyler Rudy and junior forward Brandon Allen attempted to comfort the freshman who held his head in disbelief. Their season, a season filled with improbable comebacks and thrilling performances, was decided on a single penalty kick.
“It’s tough because he is just a freshman, but I told him, ‘You still have three years,’” senior goalkeeper and co-captain Tomas Gomez said. “The fact that he wanted to take one shows a lot of character out of a freshman.”
Virginia’s victory followed after 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods in the Elite Eight match that ended 1-1.
Despite the unfavorable result, Georgetown controlled the game from the opening whistle. The Hoyas outplayed, out-possessed and outshot the Cavaliers throughout the game. Georgetown had 16 shots and eight corner kicks to Virginia’s eight shots and two corner kicks, and Virginia played defense for a majority of the afternoon.
As regulation expired, the score line reflected the run of play. Senior midfielder Austin Martz’s goal in the 59th minute had been one of the best scored by Georgetown all season. Martz hit the deflection of a shot by junior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry into the top right corner of the net. The effort, taken from the just inside the edge of the 18-yard box, was still rising when it hit the back of the net, giving the goalkeeper no chance.
“What a great goal by Austin Martz,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “It would have been a fabulous way for a senior to put his team into the college cup.”
The 1-0 lead lasted until just 53 seconds separated the Hoyas from the Final Four. The Cavaliers desperately searched for an equalizer as the game neared its conclusion and got a break when Virginia junior midfielder Todd Wharton capitalized on a cross from the left wing that had taken a deflection and fell at the edge of the six yard box, sending the teams into overtime.
“We handled everything well, I just think it was a good play on their part,” Rudy said. “I’m not thinking back and saying, ‘Oh, we could have done this, we could have done that.’ It’s unfortunate. It’s just how the game is.”
Again, Georgetown dominated the possessions through 20 minutes of overtime. Virginia redshirt senior goalkeeper Calle Brown made an acrobatic save in the 97th minute on a header shot from junior defender Joshua Turnley to preserve the 1-1 tie. Virginia did not have a single shot in overtime.
The first nine players that took penalty kicks in the shootout — five from Virginia and four from Georgetown — all converted their attempts. Gomez came close to saving three of the Cavaliers’ five attempts, but could not keep them out of the back of the net. Basuljevic needed to score his penalty kick as well in order to keep Georgetown alive — but ultimately he was unable to convert.
“At the end of any penalty kick shootout, it is a, ‘Well, thanks for putting yourself through that,’” Wiese said. “There is no glory in penalty kicks. There is only the threat of what happened to Arun happening. To have the courage to [volunteer to take a penalty kick] is really what you admire.”
The loss ended the Georgetown careers of seniors Gomez, Martz, Rudy and midfielders Tom Skelly and Jared Rist. All five athletes saw significant playing time this season. For the rest of the team, the bitter taste left by Saturday’s defeat will resonate through the upcoming months before the spring exhibition season.