As it headed to Omaha, Neb., last week, the Georgetown women’s soccer team (11-5-3, 6-1-2 Big East) had dreams of finally winning the Big East tournament and securing its spot in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The Hoyas’ hopes were dashed when they faced off against the Providence Friars (13-8-1, 5-4-0 Big East) in the Big East tournament semifinals Friday night in a match that ultimately came down to penalty kicks.
The Blue and Gray left for home Friday night after losing the penalty shootout 4-2 following 110 minutes of play that ended in a 1-1 draw. The Hoyas dominated the first half offensively.
“It’s always tough when a game comes down to penalties because anything can happen,” graduate student goalkeeper Emma Newins said.
The Georgetown offense took nine shots in the first half, as opposed to a mere one shot from Providence. Georgetown’s shots were scattered around the goal, with many just inches away from reaching the net.
“We were very unfortunate that we didn’t score at least three goals in the first half. We hit some crossbars and some posts,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said.
The Hoyas could not capitalize on those opportunities but were still confident that they could win the game with the momentum they had earned in the first half.
“We felt pretty good about ourselves at halftime because we had played so well,” Nolan said.
As the team started play in the second half, the momentum turned in Providence’s favor. Providence rocketed 12 shots on goal in the second half, and senior forward Catherine Zimmerman — an All-Big East First team selection — recorded eight of those shots, including the Friars’ lone goal. Almost midway through the half, Zimmerman took a shot from about 35 yards out, which Newins saved. However, Zimmerman took a similar shot minutes later that led to a goal, giving the Friars the lead in the 64th minute.
From that point on, the Hoyas increased their attack as they searched for the tying goal with their Big East tournament hopes on the line.
“Our strategy in the final minutes was to get the ball into the most dangerous areas of the field. The level of urgency was embraced by the whole team,” senior forward Crystal Thomas said.
In the 84th minute, Georgetown’s attack broke through when Thomas beamed the ball past Providence’s goalkeeper from outside the corner of the box.
“When we won the ball my first thought was to get the ball toward their goal. Seeing my shot bend into the net was exhilarating, and experiencing our group celebration after the goal was a special moment for the team,” Thomas said.
Following Thomas’ goal, regulation ended in a 1-1 draw, and the match headed into overtime.
The two overtime periods did not see many dangerous opportunities from either side. Georgetown’s only shot came from sophomore midfielder Rachel Corboz in the first overtime period. Providence took a total of six shots in overtime, but Newins did not have to make any saves.
After 110 minutes of play, the two sides headed into a penalty shootout. Providence delivered on their first three penalty kicks, but Georgetown failed to execute. Corboz scored Georgetown’s first penalty, but Georgetown’s next two penalty-takers — graduate student forwards Melissa Downey and Audra Ayotte — had their shots saved.
Newins made a save on Providence’s fourth shot to keep Georgetown alive. Junior forward Grace Damaska then stepped up and found the back of the net, but Providence subsequently clinched the shootout with a successful penalty. Georgetown fell to Providence by a final score of 1-1, losing 4-2 on penalties.
Georgetown headed home with no guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament, hoping to get an at-large bid in Monday’s NCAA tournament selection show. According to Thomas, the Hoyas were not prepared to end their season after Friday’s semifinal loss.
“Overall, I hope that our team gets one more chance to prove ourselves on the field,” Thomas said. “I am so thankful for this team and know what we are capable of. We are not ready to let this season go.”