The Georgetown women’s soccer team hosted the Stanford Cardinals Sept. 10 in what was touted as their toughest match of the season so far, but the Hoyas were disappointed to only come away with a 1-1 draw.
No. 2 Stanford (6-0-1) had started its season with six wins in a row, outscoring their opponents 19-3 along the way. No. 13 Georgetown (4-0-3) also came into the game unbeaten and was determined to prove to everyone that it deserved the same respect as the skilled Cardinal side.
The Hoyas dominated their opponents physically the whole match, winning their individual battles and defending on the front foot. As ever, graduate defender and 2022 First-Team All-American Julia Leas was a key part of the defensive machine that kept Stanford at bay for 85 minutes, rarely allowing the Cardinal forwards to turn and drive at goal.
The Cardinals appeared lethargic, potentially a consequence of playing two away games in quick succession, and were suffocated by the Hoyas’ early pressure.
Georgetown Head Coach Dave Nolan was proud of how the team executed his pre-match game plan.
“When you play teams at this level, teams that win national championships — and we’ve been close a few times — there’s a physicalness and a physicality,” Nolan told The Hoya. “They battle for everything and they’re so combative that I knew if we weren’t at least gonna hold our own in that battle, it was gonna be a long day. But I gotta give the kids credit because I thought they went toe to toe and every physicalness they threw at us we were able to respond.”
Georgetown’s constant pressure culminated in the perfect start, with the team taking a 1-0 lead just seven minutes in courtesy of an instinctive finish from graduate midfielder Emma Davis, silencing the large section of supporting Stanford fans.
A dangerous set piece that senior midfielder Tatum Lenain floated in pinballed around the field before sophomore forward Henley Tippins was able to poke it into the lurking Davis’ path, who made no mistake. The Hoyas proved a constant threat from set pieces throughout the 90 minutes.
The forward trio formed a dangerous attacking core with their strong individual play. Tippins effectively held the ball up with her back to goal, regularly bringing her other attackers into play. Sophomore forward Natalie Means and graduate forward Allie Winstanley tested Stanford’s full-backs repeatedly and all three linked up nine minutes in. Means carried the ball through the thirds, laying it off to Tippins who cut the ball across to Winstanley, but the graduate’s deflected shot was comfortably collected by Stanford goalkeeper Ryan Campbell.
It was Winstanley again who tested Campbell in the 25th minute, this time with a close-range effort, but it was smothered as the keeper did well to come off her line and close the angle.
The organized defensive shape from Georgetown frustrated Stanford, who moved the ball side to side looking to open up gaps that never came in the first half. The Cardinal’s only chance was a long-range effort, which was comfortably palmed over by sophomore goalkeeper Cara Martin.
Going into the second half, it was clear that the Hoyas needed to stave off mental and physical fatigue as the Cardinal was looking to break them down via exhaustion. Stanford’s liveliest player of the first half, midfielder Maya Doms, produced their first good chance of the second half, driving a hard shot destined for the bottom left corner before Martin got down well and held onto it. Martin’s handling was excellent all game, regularly claiming crosses to take the pressure off the increasingly burdened Hoya backline.
Despite the added pressure, Georgetown remained resolute and was always a threat in transition, with Means often beating her opposite number down the right but rarely having enough bodies in the box to aim at when crossing. Junior forward Erika Harwood also enjoyed success on the opposite flank, flashing a low ball across the six-yard box which went all the way through to junior midfielder Eliza Turner, whose redirected pass for Tippins was cut out by Stanford’s keeper.
In the final fifteen minutes, both teams’ fatigue was showing, as gaps formed between the thirds and more passes were misplaced. As the clock ticked down, it seemed as if the Hoyas were going to hold on for a famous victory, but it was not to be.
With less than five minutes to go, Leas made a tired challenge on the edge of the box that was punished. A beautifully placed freekick from Stanford midfielder Jasmine Aikey flew into the top left corner, giving Martin no chance. The game effectively ended with Stanford’s equalizing goal, as both teams, worn out by a hard-fought 90 minutes, had to settle for a draw.
Despite the harsh circumstances, this is the first time the Hoyas have ever had a positive result against Stanford, a statistic that was not lost on Coach Nolan.
“When the game is there to be won and you’ve got one hand on it, it’s always disappointing to give up one so late,” Nolan said. “But the reality is, come NCAA selection time, that’s a big result. That’s a resume game.”
The Hoyas fell to the Princeton Tigers (4-1-1) 3-2 following a shaky defensive effort and will look to reestablish their winning ways away against St. John’s University (4-1-2) in their Big East opener on Thursday, Sep. 21 at 7 p.m.