WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University men's soccer team needed extra minutes, but it paid off as the Blue & Gray defeated fourth-seeded Xavier University, 2-1, in double overtime on Sunday at Shaw Field to claim the 2017 BIG EAST Championship and earn an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. With the win the second-seeded Hoyas, ranked No. 18 in the latest United Soccer Coaches’ Poll, improved to 14-3-2 overall.
“I was really proud of the guys today. If we had lost in overtime, it wasn’t going to be because of a mentality,” said Georgetown Brian Wiese. “This group was playing to win it, really from 20 or 30 minutes into the game they started going. They responded to losing a goal incredibly well and got a great goal back. What a fitting goal and goal scorer to win the league, I’m really happy for Declan (McCabe) that it was him.”
The game winner came in the 108th minute when the Hoyas were awarded a free kick just outside the box on the left side. Seniors Christopher Lema (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood Memorial) and Declan McCabe (Weston, Mass./The Rivers School) lined up for the kick, and it was McCabe who took the strike which sailed into the corner of the goal to give the Hoyas the win and avoid penalty kicks.
It marked the second championship in three years for the Blue & Gray as well as the second tournament championship in program history.
“I was pretty confident, I had some against St. John’s that hit both posts so I knew I could do it,” said McCabe. “Thankfully (Christopher) Lema let me take it and I took advantage of the opportunity.”
Xavier (11-6-3) began the game with the best chances as the Hoyas had to come up with a team save to keep it scoreless in the opening minutes. As the game settled in, XU pushed forward but the Hoya defense stood strong not allowing any more dangerous looks.
As the first half wore on, the Hoyas began to get into the action on offense. The best look of the half was called offside, but Georgetown kept searching for the first goal.
With four shots for both teams in the first half, the squads went into the break in a scoreless tie.
The first goal of the second half came in the 49th minute from the Musketeers as a dangerous chance in the box was cleared off of the line by a Hoya defender. He hit the ball with his hand in the process resulting in a penalty kick which Matt Vasquenza connected on to make it 1-0.
Georgetown pushed on, searching for the equalizer which would come in the 62nd minute from GU’s leading scorer, freshman Derek Dodson (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley). McCabe sent a low cross in to the near post and Dodson was charging on it to redirect the ball into the next to tie the game at one.
Following their goal, the Musketeers had packed it in on defense and, despite the equalizer, Xavier continued to play a defensive game making it difficult for Georgetown to generate chances. After another Hoya goal was waived off due to an offsides call, the score remained tied sending the game into overtime.
The first overtime period was a shift as Xavier controlled much of play. In the 95th minute, Vasquenza hit the crossbar almost ending the contest. The Hoya defense stood strong and forced another 10-minute period.
Georgetown would only need 7:34 of the final overtime to set up McCabe’s game winner resulting in the 2-1 golden goal victory for the Blue & Gray.
The Hoyas outshot Xavier, 15-11, and took 10 corner kicks to the Musketeers’ three. Junior goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski (Alamo, Calif./De La Salle) was awarded the win with three saves as well as one team stop. Colin Hanley took the loss with two stops and XU also tallied a team save. McCabe was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the tournament, while Marcinkowski was named Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Joining the pair, Lema and Dodson also earned spots on the all-tournament team.
The Hoyas will now await the NCAA Tournament announcement on Monday at 1 p.m. on NCAA.com. A total of 48 teams will be selected with the top 16 seeded teams earning a first round bye. The first round is scheduled for Thursday, November 16 at campus sites.