Georgetown women’s soccer (7-0) remains undefeated after claiming a 1-0 victory against James Madison University (3-3), its toughest opponent yet.
“It was a pretty even match,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “But I felt that overall 1-0 was the right, fair result.”
Now ranked No. 18 in the nation, Georgetown took control from the opening whistle and, for the most part, dictated play throughout the first half. The Hoyas outshot the Dukes 6-3, but even that imbalance doesn’t capture the Hoyas’ dominance. The Blue and Gray earned 10 corner kicks and netted one when junior forward Samantha Baker, the Hoyas’ set-piece specialist, curved her kick over the Duke goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net. The goal was Baker’s second-straight game-winning corner kick shot.
“[Baker] has a deadly delivery,” Nolan said. He went on to note that the bumpy field made connecting in the box especially tough. “On a better field we would have had a couple [of goals].”
The Hoyas have also grown more comfortable and confident in the back. In what is a testament to the tough play of the Georgetown defense, JMU took a total of eight shots in the game; only one was on net.
Afterward Nolan acknowledged that this was the biggest test to date for his back-line.
“At this point we haven’t really been asked to defend, but that is also because we do such a good job with the ball that we keep teams under pressure,” he said. “[But] we’ve got to be able to attack at a little bit faster pace.”
In what is a good sign for Hoya fans – and the team’s own confidence – Nolan felt comfortable enough to substitute both his junior midfield starters, Kelly D’Ambrisi and Ingrid Wells, both of whom have already earned Big East offensive player of the week honors, and whom JMU had entered the match clearly prepared to stop.
“They assigned a man-marker on Ingrid and the girl got really physical with her,” Nolan said. “But I always try to make sure I have either Kelly or Ingrid on the field to keep opponents on their toes . [but] they had been going a lot of minutes and it was a physical battle so we got people in who could help. [The subs] adjusted well and I think now we are confident no matter who is on the field.”
The first stage of Georgetown’s season – learning to click as a team while ironing out vulnerabilities against lesser opponents – is done. This coming weekend will be a tough test as the Blue and Gray will go up against two top-10 teams on their West Coast trip.
Asked about the team’s prognosis going into games against No. 2 Stanford (4-0-2) and No. 9 Santa Clara (4-1-2), Nolan said, “If we want to be considered one of the best we have to play against the best . There are a lot of NCAA rÃ©sumÃ© games ahead so wins go a long way. If we can get two of the next three road games, that’s really big.”
In other words, the Hoyas can make big gains – or not. And, even if they do not return with victories, the learning experience will be worthwhile.
“It is a great opportunity to go out and measure ourselves against people who play the game like we want to play it,” Nolan said.
Georgetown will make the cross-country trip Wednesday, giving the team Thursday to gear up for its Friday night showdown with Santa Clara.