One year ago, the Georgetown women’s soccer team was kept waiting by the NCAA selection committee, and when the last names were called, the Blue and Gray found itself on the outside looking in.
From the beginning of this season, Head Coach Dave Nolan and the Hoyas have made it their goal to overcome last season’s snub and make the tournament field. And Tuesday afternoon, the team achieved that milestone.
In a selection show streamed live Monday afternoon, No. 13 Georgetown (15-3-3, 8-1-1 Big East) learned that it will travel to Blacksburg, Va., this weekend to take on No. 24 Virginia Tech in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Hokies (13-5-1, 4-5-1 Atlantic Coast) are in the tournament for the fifth consecutive season. Last year, they made the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history, defeating West Virginia and Texas A&M before falling to Virginia.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Georgetown drew such a tough matchup, following recent 1-0 losses to Villanova at the conclusion of the regular season and to Marquette in the Big East Championship game.
“First and foremost, we are just happy to get a bid,” Head Coach Dave Nolan said. “Second of all, I actually had a feeling that is where we would be going. It isn’t an open draw — there are a lot of conditions and stipulations on how the draw is set up, and I even said it on the bus coming down [from the Big East tournament] that we would end up going to Virginia Tech.”
Despite its impressive record as well as resume wins against fellow tournament squads Notre Dame, Rutgers and Hofstra, a bid was anything but a certainty. Even though this year’s squad overcame a similar record and strength of schedule, Nolan remains bitterly disappointed about last season’s denial.
“Nothing will ever make up for last year,” Nolan said.
Following the loss at Villanova two weeks ago, Nolan had expressed his uncertainty regarding the school’s NCAA prospects.
“I feel like we’ve got more on our resume than we did last year,” he said on Oct. 25. “But in that room, on that day, deals are made. … Nobody went to bat for us last year, and there were other people getting significant representation.”
For the second straight year, Notre Dame’s reputation as a women’s soccer power may have helped it. Last season, according to Nolan, the Irish’s status as defending champions resulted in their taking the Blue and Gray’s spot.
“Should we have gone over them? I think so,” Nolan said. “But they were defending national champions, and people in the room felt it was more important that the defending national champions get in [rather than] the team that’s better get in.”
This year, despite a 2-0 loss to the Hoyas and a Big East tournament semifinal loss — also to Marquette — the Irish were awarded a home game while the Hoyas must travel, though Nolan does not necessarily see this as a negative.
“Sometimes it is good to get away, to get your team away. There are no distractions of friends, no distractions of — dare I say it — school, so they can focus solely on the game. And we have been very good on the road all year,” Nolan said. “I don’t really feel like it will be that big of a factor. If anything, I feel that there will be more pressure on Virginia Tech.”
Georgetown’s road to the national championship in San Diego, Calif., will go through Virginia Tech and then possibly No. 14 Baylor, No. 11 North Carolina and No. 4 BYU.
The Hoyas take on the Hokies Sunday at 5 p.m.