In a remarkably physical game, the No. 5/4 Georgetown men’s soccer team preserved their top spot in the Big East standings against the University of Connecticut with a 3-0 victory on Oct. 7. Junior defender and Big East Defensive Player of the Week Max Jennings broke a 0-0 first-half deadlock with a goal off a drawn-up corner kick, and then senior forward Marlon Tabora struck two more to seal the win.
The Huskies (6-5-1, 2-2-0 Big East) generated more scoring opportunities in the first half, including a shot in the game’s first minutes and near the end of the half when a point-blank strike sailed over the Georgetown (8-1-1, 4-0-0 Big East) crossbar.
Despite the scoreline, Coach Brian Wiese praised the Huskies after the game for their first-half performance.
“You got to give a huge amount of credit to UConn, I thought they came out and battered us in the first half in a lot of ways,” Wiese said in a postgame interview with The Hoya. “They were very unlucky to not go into halftime with one or more goals.”
At halftime, Assistant Coach Connor Klekota drew up a special corner play, which Wiese and Jennings revealed to The Hoya. In the 51st minute, the Hoyas were awarded a short corner where sophomore midfielder Diego Letayf and senior midfielder Kyle Linhares assisted the ball to an open Jennings at the back post, fulfilling the adjusted gameplan.
“Kyle played a beautiful ball curling in, and I just wanted to be able to get on the end of it,” Jennings added. “I was really happy to be able to execute that.”
With Georgetown leading 1-0, the game got chippier until a Husky fouled Jennings and brought him to the ground. Jennings’ mask, which he has worn for the past two weeks since suffering a nose injury in-game, came off, and he began to bleed.
In a rarity, the penalty was reviewed for violent conduct through the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology, which aids officials in decision-making but has garnered mixed opinions in the professional soccer world due to perceived inconsistencies in its application and its impact on the flow of the game.
When asked if the play was dirty, Wiese was noncommittal.
“I trust the referee,” Wiese said. “I didn’t have the benefit of VAR, and he did. He said it wasn’t the cleanest of things, but also maybe it’s something that’s worth moving on.”
Jennings, with one nostril blood-stained and the other plugged with gauze in the post-game, said his face hit the ground when he made the tackle.
“I’m all good,” Jennings said.
Following the review, which did not result in an ejection, sophomore forward Jacob Murrell drove to the end line and delivered a pass to senior midfielder Trevor Burns. He then set up Tabora, who successfully scored, extending Georgetown’s lead to 2-0 in the 62nd minute.
Wiese applauded his team for not dwelling on the scuffle.
“We talk a lot about not taking mental breaks,” Wiese said. “They were ready to go when the free kick was whistled and scored pretty much straight off of it.”
But the Hoyas were not done — especially Tabora. In the 72nd minute, junior midfielder Joe Buck launched a pass to the 2022 All-Big East honoree, who then netted it to give Hoyas the 3-0 lead which they maintained through the buzzer.
The Hoyas struggled defensively early in the season, conceding five goals to Stanford in their lone loss and three to Fordham in their sole draw. Senior goalkeeper Ryan Schewe’s clean sheet against UConn demonstrates this improvement, one which Coach Wiese was quick to point out after the game.
“We have a back four that is playing very well together and trying to limit easy chances and making teams really earn the goal they get,” Wiese said.
Wiese praised the maturity and discipline of his team.
“This group is making older plays, they feel like an older team,” Wiese said. “They’re winning moments in key games.”
With this victory, Georgetown defends its position at the top of the Big East table. The Hoyas control their own destiny entering the playoffs with only five games left.
“It was a huge, huge result for setting ourselves up to win the league,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas will look to extend their 100% win record in Big East play as they travel to Rhode Island to take on Providence College (4-4-3, 1-1-2 Big East) Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.