The No. 13 Georgetown women’s soccer team (6-0), fresh off a 2-0 midweek win over NC State in Raleigh, N.C., returned to the Hilltop on Sunday afternoon to shut out Delaware (1-4) 3-0.
Despite the difference in the two squads’ records, the match was relatively even through the first half. Delaware was dangerous in the middle of the field, creating solid possession in the midfield but few shots on goal.
“They’re a feisty team,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “If you’re not at the top of your game, they’ll punish you.”
For the Hoyas, breaking down the Blue Hens initially proved to be a difficult task.
“They played a formation that we haven’t faced this year,” said Nolan. “We tried to train for it, but until you get into the game, it’s hard to figure out. We ran into problems with the same formation when we [beat] Virginia Tech in the NCAA tournament last year. Last year, we changed to match it, but this year, I wanted us to try to figure it out.”
Although the Delaware formation shut down some usually reliable offensive options for the Hoyas, it opened up others, especially for senior outside backs Colleen Dinn and Mary Kroening, who pushed forward and created opportunities for the Blue and Gray.
In the first 15 minutes, Kroening created several chances with dangerous crosses from the right flank. The Hoyas finally found the back of the net in the 19th minute, when Dinn whipped a cross into the box that senior forward Kaitlin Brenn knocked in.
Despite taking a 1-0 lead into the half, happy faces on the Georgetown sideline were nowhere to be seen. “Sloppy” was the word used repeatedly by Nolan and his players after the game to describe the team’s effort in the first 45.
“I thought [that] in the first half, we were sloppy and the game was closer than it needed to be,” said Nolan.
“The first half definitely wasn’t one of our better halves of the season,” Kroening said. “It was pretty sloppy.”
The second half, however, was a different story. From the opening whistle, Georgetown exerted a newfound control over the match. Less than three minutes in, a corner kick played by junior forward Audra Ayotte was mishandled by Delaware junior goalkeeper Jess Figueroa at the near post and knocked into the back of the net by Kroening — the defender’s first goal of the year.
From there, it was smooth sailing for the Blue and Gray.
“I thought [that early goal in the second half] took the sting out of the game a little bit,” Nolan said.
The most important development of the second half for Georgetown was the season debut of junior midfielder Daphne Corboz. The New Jersey native was named preseason Big East offensive player of the year but has been recovering from a leg injury that had kept her off the pitch before Sunday.
After subbing on in the 65th minute, Corboz immediately made her presence felt, using her deft touch to create several chances for the Hoyas. For the junior, however, the most important thing was just being back on the field.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Corboz. “It was great to get back out there and play with the team again.”
Corboz, who was Georgetown’s leading scorer last year, finished up the day with an assist in the 88th minute when she played a ball forward to junior forward Vanessa Skrumbis, who combined with fellow junior forward Jessica Clinton to set up Clinton for the goal. The score gave Georgetown a 3-0 lead and was the final nail in the coffin for Delaware.
Nolan was happy to see his star midfielder back on the pitch but cautioned that it will be a while before Corboz is at full health.
“She’s getting a little stronger each day,” Nolan said. “It’ll take her a couple of games to get back to her regular self.”
The victory marked the third straight shutout for Georgetown. It has now been close to 300 minutes since redshirt sophomore goalie Emma Newins last surrendered a goal.
“A shutout is always great,” Kroening said. “That’s our goal every game.”
The Hoyas return to action Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. to face the visiting Yale Bulldogs (2-0).