After its first win of the season, the Georgetown men’s soccer team (16-2-3, 9-0 Big East) pledged not to lose again this year. Despite bowing out of the NCAA tournament in the third round Sunday after a penalty shootout with underdog Boston College (11-7-2, 4-4 ACC), the Hoyas kept that promise.
That is because games that end in a shootout are officially recorded as ties, despite the fact that a winner is chosen at the end of 110 minutes of play. Technically, No. 3 Georgetown ended the season still carrying an 18-match unbeaten streak. Nevertheless, Sunday ended the team’s season and did so in a particularly difficult way.
“Penalties aren’t the best way to lose. I mean, it’s just one of those things where it could go either way,” senior defender and co-captain Josh Turnley said.
The Hoyas started the game slowly, failing to hold the ball or connect passes. The Eagles, meanwhile, played well and looked much more likely to score. They converted that advantage into a lead after 18 minutes, with freshman forward Trevor Davock putting his team ahead.
Georgetown continued to struggle for much of the rest of the game. Sophomore midfielder Christopher Lema and senior defender and co-captain Keegan Rosenberry — two players who have been reliable performers throughout the season — looked especially out of sorts Sunday afternoon. The back line and freshman goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski helped keep the score at 1-0.
The second 45 minutes started off the same as the first. Then, in the 60th minute, a corner kick from Lema found Rosenberry at the back post. Rosenberry took his shot on the volley and put it in the back of the net against the run of play.
The game looked much different, and much more like a normal match at Shaw Field this season, after the equalizer. Georgetown maintained possession, started stringing together passes and finally seemed more likely to score.
“Once [Rosenberry] scored that great goal, the goal really came out of almost nothing. We weren’t playing well and we get a corner and score a great goal. Goals change games in soccer, and I thought from that moment on … we were pretty good,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said.
The Hoyas held the advantage in both overtime periods, and senior defender and co-captain Cole Seiler nearly won the match when he received a frantic corner by junior forward Alex Muyl as time expired.
“We started to get some confidence and play a lot more like Georgetown soccer,” Turnley said. “We were on our front foot. You like to think if we had more time, maybe some more overtime or something, we would have been able to find a goal.”
Unfortunately for Georgetown, that goal did not come, and the game advanced to a penalty shootout. Wiese made a key substitution for the shootout, replacing Big East Freshman of the Year Marcinkowski with junior goalkeeper Mitchell Auer. Auer had appeared just one match before Sunday, but Wiese had planned on bringing the 6-foot-5-inch keeper in for penalty kicks all season.
“Mitch was unbelievable in training for penalties. To a man, everybody would say ‘Mitch is probably the guy we should be putting in here,’” Wiese said.
In the end, however, the choice of goalkeeper made little difference. The Eagles expertly converted all five of their penalties, and Auer had little chance to save any of them. The winning penalty hit off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
Georgetown, meanwhile, put away its first two chances, with senior forward Brandon Allen and Turnley easily scoring. Rosenberry, whose goal had sent the game into overtime, went third for the Hoyas. The usually reliable penalty taker put his shot over the crossbar. He was the only player from either team to miss his chance.
“For four years of working on [penalty kicks], I don’t think he’s missed a single penalty kick in his four years of just doing it,” Wiese said. “Of course, it’s Keegan that is the one that misses it. That’s what penalty kicks are kind of about. It’s not fair in a lot of ways.”
For the second season in a row, Georgetown was on the wrong end of a 5-4 penalty kick shootout. For Turnley and the Hoyas, the loss will leave a bitter taste that is not easily forgotten.
“It certainly was a cruel way to lose, and for the second year in a row. It definitely leaves a little bit of a sting that won’t go away for a little while. I guess that’s just the way it goes,” Turnley said.