Junior forward Stefan Stojanovic netted a thrilling goal in overtime to lift the No. 7 Georgetown men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over No. 18 Providence on Sunday, Nov. 14, securing the Hoyas’ fourth Big East Conference Tournament Championship in the last five seasons.
Spectators crowded Shaw Field to watch the Hoyas (16-2-0, 8-2-0 Big East) face the Friars (10-4-4, 5-2-3 Big East) on a chilly autumn afternoon with temperatures lingering in the mid-40s. The two squads previously met Oct. 13 in the regular season, with the Hoyas falling to the Friars 3-0.
Georgetown looked poised to avenge that loss early. Just 48 seconds into the match, Stojanovic redirected a beautiful cross from junior forward Will Sands toward the right post, the ball skipping wide by a mere foot. A second near-miss came in the 28th minute when Providence goalkeeper Lukas Burns fully extended to deflect a blast from first-year defender Kieran Sargeant, preserving the scoreless tie.
Both teams brought a great deal of intensity to the championship contest. Referee Sergio Gonzalez’s crew showed nine yellow cards total in the match, the most of any Georgetown game this season and six more than in the first matchup with the Friars. Toward the end of the first half, Providence received three after just 42 minutes of play, with two of those leveled against the Friar bench in separate incidents.
Georgetown Men’s Soccer Head Coach Brian Wiese said the fouls stemmed from the teams’ earnest competitiveness.
“The ref was trying to keep a grip of the game,” Wiese said in a postgame interview with The Hoya. “But it was played in good spirit.”
Another yellow card helped Georgetown break the deadlock in the 52nd minute. Providence defender Ramzi Qawasmy was penalized as Georgetown made a run into the goal box, granting Stojanovic a penalty kick. The crowd of students behind the goal roared as the Hoyas’ leading scorer snuck the ball into the bottom right corner of the net to give Georgetown a 1-0 advantage.
It would not be the last penalty try in the match. Twelve minutes later, senior Georgetown goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis was carded for colliding with a Providence player while trying to corral the ball near the top of the box. Midfielder Paulo Lima stepped forward to take the kick for the Friars, but Nikopolidis managed a spectacular diving save to his left to end the threat.
Growing desperate, the Friars found an answer with just over five minutes left to play in regulation. Sophomore Brendan McSorely collected a deflection off the head of Lima in space and pounded it inside the far post to even the score at one apiece. Neither team was able to produce a scoring opportunity in the last six minutes of play, so the game proceeded to overtime.
It would not take long to relieve the palpable tension on Shaw Field. In the 96th minute, senior midfielder Sean Zawadski directed a pass down the pitch to Stojanovic. Streaking toward the goal, the veteran forward controlled the ball in midair with a deft touch and Stojanovic sent a strike past Burns into the back of the net.
The grandstand erupted. Several Georgetown players ran to the barricade to celebrate with throngs of cheering students. Some even hoisted the three-foot-tall silver championship trophy to the end line for a photo with the mob of fans.
Coach Wiese said that the passion of the home crowd always gives the team an advantage.
“Hopefully we can get two or three more home games in the tournament,” Wiese said. “The energy is great that we get from our students here.”
Stojanovic’s heroics won him the Big East tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player honors in a ceremony following the match, with his teammate Nikopolidis earning the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. Two other Hoyas, Zawadski and first-year midfielder Joe Buck, were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The victory concludes a dominant 2021 Big East campaign for the Hoyas where only two opponents all season were able to generate multiple goals. Conference champions in both the regular season and the tournament, Georgetown was named the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas await the winner of a first-round matchup between Charlotte (10-5-1, 5-3 Conference USA) and Georgia State (12-6, 3-3 Mid-American) on Thursday, Nov. 18.