For the second time in program history, the No. 5 Georgetown women’s soccer team advanced the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, after beating No. 15 Virginia (15-5-2, 6-2-2 ACC) by a 2-0 score Sunday afternoon in the third round.
Despite the severe wind affecting the quality of play, the Hoyas (19-2-3, 6-1-2 Big East) used the conditions to their advantage, tallying an own goal less than two minutes into the second half and adding a late free kick goal from junior midfielder Rachel Corboz.
The wind was an omnipresent factor and stopped some goal kicks mid-air and extended others nearly the length of the field. The gusts also prevented both teams from getting into any offensive rhythm, rendering the match a scrappy midfield battle with few chances at either end.
“It was crazy,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “In all my years of playing and coaching, even coming from Ireland, I don’t think I can ever remember a game in winds so strong. I mean, it really screwed up the game with regards to being a spectacle. Which is a shame, because you’ve got two very good soccer-playing teams. I felt we did a much better job of dealing with it than they did.”
The Cavaliers in the first half, despite the wind being at their backs, managed to create few opportunities, but Georgetown took immediate advantage in the second frame. Corboz took a short corner in the forty-seventh minute, junior midfielder Chloe Knott took a few dribbles towards the box, and her cross ricocheted off a Virginia defender into the net.
“In the second half, it was going to come down to either a bit of good fortune or a moment of brilliance, which would separate the two teams,” Nolan said. “And we got both. Obviously we got lucky with the corner kick, but you know when you drive a ball in there with that kind of pace, stuff can happen. And then, you know, Rachel does what Rachel does, which is brilliance.”
Corboz sealed the victory in the seventy-seventh minute with a free-kick goal from twenty-five yards out, her eleventh goal of the season, second on the team behind senior forward Grace Damaska. Corboz also leads the nation in assists with fourteen.
Georgetown goalkeeper Arielle Schechtman, who is tied for fifth in the country in shutouts with 12, put up her fourth in a row with the string of 2-0 playoff wins. Corboz also had high praise for the defensive unit.
“Our defense has been amazing throughout the whole year,” Corboz said.
Georgetown’s Elite Eight appearance is the second in program history, with the team only having reached this point in the tournament in 2010, when after upsetting top-seeded Maryland the team fell to Ohio State 2-0.
The Hoyas play at Shaw Field on Saturday at noon against Santa Clara (12-6-4, 6-2-1 WCC).
Georgetown has achieved much already this season, but they remain motivated to keep going.
“Oh, it’s amazing. We’ve worked so hard,” Corboz said. “We told ourselves that we had a really good chance, and we want to win another game. We want to go to the Final Four, we want to make more history.”