Senior forward Jenna Menta’s overtime goal secured the Big East Championship for the Georgetown women’s soccer team with a 2-1 win over the Butler University Bulldogs on April 18.
The Georgetown Hoyas (11-0-1, 7-0-1 Big East) started the game ahead with an early goal against the Butler Bulldogs (10-2-0, 6-1-0). In the sixth minute, Georgetown stole the ball from Butler and pushed forward on a counter attack as Menta surged into the penalty area.
The Bulldogs’ defense brought down Menta, but the referee did not call for a foul. The ball broke for senior midfielder Grace Nguyen at the edge of the penalty area. Nguyen struck the ball toward the bottom left corner of the goal, gliding it past Butler goalkeeper Stephanie Rodriguez and putting Georgetown ahead 1-0.
The Hoyas took five shots and three corner kicks in the four minutes following Nguyen’s goal. Junior defender Jenna Royson took one shot from inside the penalty box, but it was denied by Rodriguez.
In the 27th minute, Royson put pressure once again on the Butler defense. Royson ran down the right wing and gave a grounded pass to Nguyen. Nguyen drove the ball toward the bottom right of the goal, but Rodriguez made a swift diving save to prevent a second Hoya goal.
Despite shots from both the Hoyas and the Bulldogs in the remaining minutes of the half, the score remained 1-0 at halftime. Georgetown dominated in the box, outshooting Butler 14-4 in the first half.
The Hoyas opened the second half with immediate pressure on the Bulldogs. In the 53rd minute, junior midfielder Maya Fernandez-Powell directed a corner pass to sophomore midfielder Julia Leas. Leas headed the ball toward the center of the goal, but Rodriguez once again came to the Bulldogs’ rescue.
Butler came back into the game in the 56th minute. Midfielder Katie Soderstrom took a shot from the top of Georgetown’s penalty area and beat the Hoyas’ graduate goalkeeper Lauren Gallagher to equalize the score at one.
The Bulldogs followed their goal with another shot on target in the 60th minute. Midfielder Alli Leonard struck the ball toward the bottom center of the goal, but Gallagher successfully made the save.
Georgetown responded with strong offensive play, putting the Bulldogs on the back foot. With only six minutes left to play, Leas directed another header toward goal. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Rodriguez saved this effort.
The second half ended with the score knotted at one. Georgetown took fewer shots in this half compared with the first, recording six shots to Butler’s two. Since there was no winner at the end of regulation, the game headed into overtime to decide who would take home the Big East Championship trophy.
Just three minutes into overtime, Menta dribbled from the halfway line into the Bulldogs’ penalty area. Two Bulldog defenders closed in on her as Menta lofted the ball toward the back post and found the back of the net. Menta’s golden goal ended the game, earning Georgetown the Big East Championship title for the fourth time in five years.
Georgetown outshot the Bulldogs 22-6 by the end of the game and won 14 corners to the Bulldogs’ three.
Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan commented on the excitement of winning the championship in a postgame press conference.
“There’s nothing that’s come their way this year that has caused them to get miffed or get upset,” Nolan said. “They’ve rolled with everything … They’re a fantastic group of kids, and we’re super excited to bring home another Big East Championship.”
By winning the Big East Championship, the Hoyas have earned an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament in Cary, N.C. The tournament is set to kick off April 27, with the Hoyas looking to follow up a strong regular season performance with a deep postseason run. Georgetown will face off against the winner of a first-round matchup between the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the University of Montana Grizzlies.