In the 93rd minute of play, senior forward Paula Germino-Watnick lined up the ball on the penalty spot after the St. John’s defense took down sophomore defender Jenna Royson in the box to draw a foul. With the blow of the whistle, Germino-Watnick struck the ball and slotted it past the St. John’s keeper, earning her third goal on the day and propelling the Hoyas to their final victory of the regular season.
St. John’s (5-12-1, 2-6-1 Big East) challenged 19th-ranked Georgetown (12-3-3, 6-1-2 Big East) early with a goal in the third minute of the Oct. 31 match at Shaw Field. The Red Storm offense struck first with junior forward and lead scorer Zsani Kajan positioned up top as she broke through the Hoyas’ defense and powered the ball past freshman keeper Anna Leat. This shot came directly after Leat had come out of the net in an attempt to shut down the play before the Red Storm could muster a shot on goal.
Despite the early 1-0 deficit, the Blue and Gray dominated possession in the successive 15 minutes before evening the score in the 17th minute. The equalizer came from a shot by Germino-Watnick from outside the box that found the top left corner of the net. The Red Storm countered with some opportunities on through-balls to players up top, but they were ultimately shut down by the Hoyas’ defense.
Georgetown continued its offensive pressure, sending players into the box with hopes of landing a go-ahead goal. In the 22nd minute, senior forward Casey Richards sent in a low corner that prompted a scramble in the box with junior defender Kelly Ann Livingstone, eventually sending the ball toward the goal, but it was cleared out of bounds by the St. John’s keeper.
After several more opportunities, the Hoyas took the lead with an assist from the left side of the box by graduate forward Amanda Carolan and a one-time finish inside the left post by Germino-Watnick in the 28th minute. The Blue and Gray closed out the half having held the Red Storm to one shot while recording 11 of its own.
The beginning of the second half saw less action, with few promising opportunities arising for either team in the first 15 minutes. In the 62nd minute of regulation, St. John’s junior forward Alex Madden, assisted by Kajan, drew Leat off her line and dribbled by the keeper to put away a second goal for the Red Storm, tying up the game for a second time. While the Blue and Gray responded with several more shots and corner kicks in the remainder of regulation, the Hoyas could not find the winning goal in 90 minutes.
The teams headed into overtime knotted at two, each searching for a golden goal to conclude their regular season with a win. It took Georgetown only three minutes to close out the game, with Germino-Watnick’s finish off of a penalty kick completing her first career hat trick.
Overall, Georgetown tallied 16 shots with six on goal to St. John’s two shots on goal. The Hoyas also topped the Red Storm in corner kicks 14-0 on the day.
Germino-Watnick’s five shots and three goals on the day earned her recognition as the Big East Offensive Player of the Week. Germino-Watnick now has nine goals and eight assists on the season and sits in second place on the team with 26 overall points.
Head Coach Dave Nolan spoke after the victory about St. John’s early goal and his team’s response to being down early against the Red Storm, an opponent that the Hoyas expected to win without nearly this much trouble.
“It was a strange kind of game. It was a game we probably should have won comfortably, but they’ve got a very special player [Zsani Kajan] up front and she’s a handful. We had prepared for her all week, we just didn’t do a good job on her. She got us early in the first couple minutes of the game where we bit and she saw the double team coming and played out of it and got the ball back and finished it really well,” Nolan said.
Although the Hoya defense conceded a goal early, Nolan expressed satisfaction with his team’s response to the Red Storm’s pair of goals.
“Give our kids credit. They kept going,” Nolan said. “We asked for someone to step up and make an intelligent play because I felt we were getting a little bit hopeful and frantic towards the end of regulation… Jenna [Royson] got on it and made a great move inside and the only option the kid had was to take her down. Then Paula had the calmness and the coolness to put it away for a hat trick.”
With the close of the season, the Hoyas have received numerous honors for their performances in 2019. Germino-Watnick secured the title of Big East Midfielder of the Year and senior defender Meaghan Nally earned the title of Big East Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive year. Germino-Watnick, Nally and Carolan were also named to the All-Big East First Team, Leat and Royson were named to the All-Big East Second Team, and Leat and freshman midfielder Julia Leas were selected for the Big East All-Freshman Team.
The Blue and Gray now look to defend its Big East title for the fourth year in a row as it heads into the tournament.
“We are excited to still be playing and we’re excited we got this game under our belt and we’re excited we got the bye so we can rest up a little bit and start to catch our breath,” Nolan said.
With the win, Georgetown earns the second seed in the Big East tournament and will begin semifinal play on Thursday, Nov. 7 in Omaha, Neb., against Providence. Kick-off is slated for 8:30 p.m. EST.