After two straight weekends on the road, the women’s soccer team (13-5-1, 7-3-1 Big East) finished off its regular season by electrifying North Kehoe with two of its finest performances of the year.
Having already clinched the second seed in the conference tournament Friday with a 1-0 victory over DePaul, Georgetown drew with the No. 4 team in the country and division-leading Notre Dame (15-1-2, 9-0-2 Big East) on Sunday, 1-1.
“It was a very close game, and we got what we deserved,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said.
Following Friday’s game, looking ahead to the upcoming challenge against Notre Dame, redshirt junior midfielder Ingrid Wells was happy to have earned a top-two spot in the Big East tourney.
“We are going in with no pressure at all,” Wells said. “That’s a huge burden off of us.”
The Notre Dame game was fast-paced from the get-go, with both teams pushing the ball up the field with attacking intent. Both the Blue and Gray and the Fighting Irish had chances in the first half, tallying seven shots apiece, but big saves and several squandered chances left the game scoreless after 45 minutes of play.
In the 73rd minute, the Fighting Irish turned an innocent counter attack into a threatening fast-break and, finally, a penalty-kick. Georgetown had been pressing forward aggressively when the Notre Dame defense regained possession and quickly played it forward, giving the Georgetown midfield no time to retreat into a more defensive posture. The attack continued to move forward with pace, and freshman forward Adriana Leon was eventually dragged down in the box by Hoya senior goalkeeper Jackie DesJardin.
DesJardin had no chance on the penalty kick, which junior forward Melissa Henderson put away into the left corner of the goal.
But the Hoyas continued to get numbers forward and play in the same style they had been all afternoon with short, quick passes and the occasional long ball. With 13:36 to go, junior forward Samantha Baker nearly got the equalizer after some nifty dribbling got her a clear shooting lane just outside the 18-yard box, but her shot just cleared the crossbar.
The Georgetown attack that tied the game took form with four minutes to play. After some good buildup play, the Hoyas earned a throw-in that Baker lofted threateningly into the box. Freshman defender Mary Kroening’s net-bound header was blocked, but junior forward Camille Trujillo won the race to the rebound and back-heeled the ball off the goalpost and into the back of the net.
The goal capped off a banner weekend for Trujillo, who drew the foul that gave the Blue and Gray the penalty kick that would be the winning goal against DePaul on Friday. Following her impressive weekend, the Hoya goal-leader (10) was named to the Big East weekly honor roll.
“[Trujillo] is a warrior,” Nolan said. “[She] took the punishment and still played her game.”
Even after the equalizing goal, the Blue and Gray kept up the pressure. The frenetic attacking almost backfired in the final moments, as a Notre Dame long ball had to be hurriedly claimed by DesJardin just before the onrushing Fighting Irish could take advantage of the chance in the final seconds.
Both teams continued to create chances in overtime. The most threatening moment came in the eighth minute of the first overtime period, when Leon received a through ball pass from Notre Dame senior midfielder Rose Augustin. Leon charged in on goal and blasted a shot toward the near post. DesJardin came up huge for the Blue and Gray, though, showing off quick reflexes by getting her hands up just in time to steer the shot around the post.
“It is clear [DesJardin] has gotten more and more confident with her knee,” Mike DesJardin said of his daughter, who underwent ACL surgery in the offseason. “She’s playing like she did before her injury.”
Often overlooked, the Georgetown backline did a stellar job over the weekend, only yielding one goal when faced by a fleet of talented attackers. Senior co-captain Michaela Buonomo and junior Gabby Miller are seasoned veterans who have been steady influences in the back all season. Additionally, the backline has been augmented by the way freshman defenders Mary Kroening and Emily Menges – who have started every game this season – have grown into their roles.
“When you throw freshmen into the back you are exposing them to some of the better forwards in the country,” Nolan said. “[Menges] made some mistakes early on in the season that cost us, but Sunday was a flawless effort from her.”
The Blue and Gray have a week off after Sunday’s big game, and their next matchup will come when they play host to South Florida (11-4-3, 6-3-2 Big East) next Sunday in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.
Although the Hoyas beat the Bulls 3-1 about three weeks ago, they are being careful not to get overconfident.
“It’s a dangerous [matchup] because it’s always hard to beat a team twice in so little time,” Nolan said. “The losing team has the opportunity to change things before the second game. We will need to find new ways to keep them guessing.”
The Hoyas’ playoff hopes have fell short in recent times, with quarterfinal exits in the past two years. Last season, Georgetown fell to St. John’s in especially heartbreaking fashion, giving up the game’s lone goal in double overtime. On Sunday, the Hoyas will have a chance to reverse their recent postseason misfortune and earn a spot in the semifinals.
“We have finished in the top two to three for the past four seasons,” Nolan said. “We have solidified ourselves as part of the top group in the conference.”
Now, his team will need to prove that they can deliver into November as well.