The Hoyas fell short against another top-ranked opponent on Saturday at MultiSport Facility, enjoying a solid first half but struggling mightily in the second en route to a 13-6 defeat at the hands of the No. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels (7-1).
The No. 8 Hoyas (2-4) opened the season with a win against Johns Hopkins but have struggled since, albeit against a brutal slate of nonconference opponents that has included losses to the top four teams in the country – Northwestern, Maryland, Duke and North Carolina.
The Blue and Gray, to whom Head Coach Ricky Fried has been emphasizing the importance of consistency all year, started off slowly. By the 27:20 mark of the first half, the visiting Tar Heels had opened up a 2-0 lead. Georgetown junior attack Jordy Kirr put the Hoyas on the board about five minutes later, 40 seconds after North Carolina senior Megan Bosica had been sent to the sidelines with a yellow card. Unfortunately for the Hoyas, Bosica redeemed herself a few minutes later when she split the Georgetown defense and fired home from close range. Off the ensuing draw, Bosica again torched the Hoyas by drawing the attention of several defenders before centering it to teammate Kristen Taylor, who easily beat a helpless Caitlin Formby from close range.
The Hoyas staged a rally, however, as they won some draws and forced the Tar Heels into some poor passes. The Blue and Gray held North Carolina scoreless for well over 10 minutes after their fourth goal and used their extended possession to wear down the visitors and evened the score at four with 9:51 left with goals from juniors Kathleen Dwyer and Jacqueline Giles, as well as one from senior Ashby Kaestner.
There was potential for even greater damage were it not for the Tar Heels’ goalie, senior Logan Ripley, who stepped up and made a few huge saves after the hosts had earned a few free-position shots.
“[Ripley] did a good job,” Fried lamented after the game. “I think we could have shot better, [but] you have to give her credit for coming up with the saves.”
North Carolina Head Coach Jenny Levy called a time out immediately after Giles’ equalizing goal, and that appeared to stabilize the Tar Heels, who closed out the half with two unanswered goals, giving them a 6-4 advantage at the break.
Despite being down at halftime, Fried said he did not feel too bad about his team’s performance up to that point.
“In the first half I thought – [especially] after the first couple unforced turnovers – we got ourselves together and played pretty well,” Fried said.
The second half was a much different story. The Hoyas did not struggle quite as much on draws but were unable to capitalize on a turnover-prone Tar Heel attack, frequently turning the ball right back over when gifted possession by a North Carolina mistake.
“We certainly need to do a better job of not having unforced turnovers,” Fried said. “They turned the ball over quite a bit, but then we would turn it back over, which negates the advantage we have.”
The Hoyas actually closed the gap to one on Kirr’s second goal of the day about two minutes into the second half, but the Tar Heels responded with a 6-0 run that took the better part of 10 minutes and was greatly aided by Georgetown mistakes and fouls.
After Bosica’s third goal of the match – and North Carolina’s eighth – Georgetown committed a spate of fouls that at one point saw the Hoyas down three players after three yellow cards were handed out in two and a half minutes. Although the Tar Heels were unable to score in every instance, the frequent fouling by the Hoyas made it very difficult for them to regain possession and settle into an offensive rhythm, which led to the out-of-sync Hoyas committing uncharacteristic turnovers when they did have the ball.
“[In the] second half, we didn’t have possession very much, and it wasn’t really a lack of draw controls,” Fried said. “[It was] unforced errors on our part and too many fouls. The turnovers led to us getting frustrated and fouling. . We didn’t have the ball nearly enough, and that obviously affects [us] and hurts that flow.”
Georgetown graduate student Bunny O’Reilly ended the Tar Heel run with a goal at the 14:32 mark of the second half, but that was it for the Hoyas, who were stymied the rest of the way as the Tar Heels coolly closed out a seven-goal victory.
It was a frustrating game to watch for Fried, who could not see many plusses in his team’s performance.
“Right at this moment I’d have to go look at the film to be honest with you, [in order to] find some positives,” Fried said. “After the first couple poor plays we got ourselves together and played even – or even played up a little bit – but at this level, it’s not good enough to play one half. We’ve got to string something together and play a little better across the board.”
The Hoyas will find out whether their brutal non-conference schedule has prepared them for Big East play as well as Fried had hoped, as they travel to Villanova to take on the Wildcats before returning home on Sunday for their last non-conference game for about a month against No. 13 Princeton.