After winning the Big East regular season title last Thursday in a 2-1 win over Creighton, the No. 6 Georgetown men’s soccer team (13-2-2, 9-0-0 Big East) will take on No. 25 Xavier (12-5-1, 5-3-1 Big East) at home in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
The two teams met in the semifinals of the 2014 tournament as well. In that match, Xavier stymied the Georgetown attack and earned a 1-0 win before going on to lose in the championship game. Georgetown has never won the conference tournament under Head Coach Brian Wiese.
“This is a puzzle that we haven’t solved for the program, which is, ‘Can we win these knockout games to win the Big East tournament?’ So it will be a lot of fun to see if we can try,” Wiese said.
In fact, the last three matches between the two teams have ended 1-0 score, and two of the three have required an overtime. Most recently, at the beginning of October, the Hoyas earned an important road victory in the sixth minute of overtime. Senior defender Keegan Rosenberry made the difference that night with a 96th-minute goal.
“Xavier is a team that is built for postseason success, so it is going to be a tough one. It is always hard to beat a good team twice,” Wiese said.
Xavier has had a great deal of success this season, with its defense standing out. Senior goalkeeper Dallas Jaye won Big East Goalkeeper of the Year honors while sophomore defender Corey Brown made the All-Big East First Team.
“They are very organized, a very hard-working team. They are good on set pieces. They’ve got some pieces that can transition really well against you,” Wiese said.
Georgetown and Xavier have a history of close competition. In 2014, both teams made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. More recently, Georgetown had a regular season for the record books, while Xavier took down then-undefeated No. 1 Creighton (16-2, 7-2 Big East) on the road. In fact, the only two teams the Bluejays lost to in 2015 were the Musketeers and the Hoyas.
The two teams look similar on the stat sheet as well. They are relatively even in goals scored — 31 for Georgetown and 29 for Xavier — and goals allowed — 14 for Georgetown and 16 for Xavier. In other categories, such as shots per game or number of yellow and red cards received, the Hoyas have the edge. Georgetown is also 8-1 at home this season and will look to take advantage of home field advantage Thursday.
“It’s on our field. That’s obviously a big help for us,” Wiese said. “Hopefully we can … take advantage of the home game we earned from the regular season.”
Georgetown took home the regular-season conference championship, becoming the third-ever team to finish a perfect Big East schedule in its modern format and the second ever to go 9-0. The team is still in the midst of an 11-game winning streak and 14-game unbeaten streak.
“We just have to make sure we’re on our game to neutralize the things that they’re good at. On the same token, [we have to] see if we can capitalize on some of the things that we’re good at,” Wiese said.
The Hoyas managed these feats by employing just about every weapon in their arsenal over the course of the season. The defense recorded seven shutouts, including six straight in conference play. The offense scored multiple goals in nine different matches, with 12 players scoring or recording an assist this season.
All that past success gives Georgetown plenty of reason to be confident entering Thursday’s semifinal. But with a strong Xavier team looming, the players are careful not to overlook any opponent.
“We’ve got to keep our head on straight and just try and win these next couple games,” Roseberry said last Thursday after the win over Creighton.