It’s now do or die for the No. 14 Georgetown women’s soccer team. There are no more second chances or next games.
Coming off of a heartbreaking loss in the final minutes of the Big East tournament finals against No. 12 Marquette, Georgetown will have to rebound quickly in the first round of the NCAA tournament in order to extend its season. Georgetown (15-3-3, 9-2-2 Big East) will face off against No. 25 Virginia Tech (13-5-1, 4-5-1 ACC) Sunday in Blacksburg, Va.
“It is probably a game neither of us would have wanted in the first round,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “For the caliber of both of our teams, this should be a second- or third-round game. They are a very good team.”
As opposed to last year, the Hoyas — who had a dominant conference campaign en route to the National Division title — received an at-large bid for the 64-team competition. This is Georgetown’s third appearance in the tournament, and it will look to replicate the run it made in the 2010 tournament, when it reached the Elite Eight before being knocked out by Ohio State.
The Blue and Gray will begin their run against the Hokies, a formidable opponent from the perennially strong Atlantic Coast Conference, which most recently handed No. 10 Wake Forest a 3-0 thrashing.
“The ACC is so competitive that even though [Virginia Tech] didn’t finish in the top eight [of the conference] or make the ACC tournament, their RPI had them for most of the season in the top 20. That speaks volumes for how competitive the ACC conference is,” Nolan said.
Unlike Georgetown — whose most recent game was Sunday — Virginia Tech has not played since Oct. 24. That layoff, Nolan explained, could play a role in Sunday’s game.
“I think they will be well rested, but they also have to get their game legs back,” he said. “It is so different to have that amount of time off.”
With each game potentially its last, it is more important than ever that Georgetown maintain its balanced attack. This season, the Hoyas have averaged 2.19 goals a a game, while only allowing 0.60 goals a games, marks that ranks 23rd and 15th in the country, respectively.
On offense, the Hoyas are led by standout sophomore midfielder Daphne Corboz and junior forward Kaitlin Brenn. Corboz, the 2012 Big East offensive player of the year, has had a record-setting sophomore year in posting 41 points — eighth-most in the country — including a school-record 17 goals and in Big East play a league-leading 27 points. Corboz is complemented in the team’s potent offense by Brenn, who was named to the all-Big East second team by tallying 27 points and leading the team with nine assists.
In recent games, though, junior midfielder Colleen Dinn has keyed the attack, scoring the lone goal against DePaul in the quarterfinals. Nolan noted that she is sure to be an important factor in the coming games, as well.
“I can always count on [Dinn] — even when she is having a bad day, she doesn’t hide. She always wants the ball and is always trying to make something positive happen, and that is key,” Nolan said. “You get a lot of players who, in big games, don’t want the responsibility when they are playing poorly, but Colleen never hides.”
Georgetown’s defense, meanwhile, is equally as dominant as its offense.
Junior defender Emily Menges and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Emma Newins are vital parts of a Hoya defense that has posted a school-record thirteen shutouts. Menges, a leader on the back line, was recently named to the all-Big East first team and all-tournament team.
She is backed up by Newins, who’s been a steady force in goal all year and was recently voted to the all-Big East second team. This season, Newins has posted a 0.58 goals-against average. More of the same will be needed on Sunday to keep the Hokies off the board.
“They have a very good attacking midfielder and two older senior forwards. The strength of their team is that they really are a team. They don’t have any weaknesses — goalkeeper all the way up,” Nolan said.
Georgetown will take on Virginia Tech Sunday in Blacksburg, Va. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.