Nov. 16, 2013
WASHINGTON - Georgetown University Head Women's Soccer Coach Dave Nolan was happy to have his team selected for the NCAA Tournament, but more than anything, he was happy to have home field advantage in the first round. The Hoyas took advantage of the comforts of playing at Shaw Field, scoring one goal in each half en route to a 2-0 win over LaSalle in front of 733 fans on an overcast Saturday afternoon in the Nation's Capital.
Georgetown improves to 16-2-2 overall, while LaSalle closes out the season with a 15-5-3 record. The Hoyas advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 22, where they will play No. 1 Virginia (21-1-0), who beat St. Francis (Pa.), 5-0, on Friday.
The win also tied the school record for wins in a season with 16, set by the 2011 and 2012 teams respectively. This is the third time in the last four years that Georgetown has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"It is one of those games where you lose and your season is over, and for seniors, you lose and your career is over," Nolan said. "There's far more to it and there's far more nerves for both teams because there's more at stake. That's why it's important to have home field advantage and to play somewhere you're familiar and there are less distractions. It's do or die."
Leading 1-0 at the break, Georgetown did its best to put the game out of reach quickly. Following a LaSalle foul just beyond midfield, senior defender Mary Kroening (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury) took a free kick that was headed by sophomore midfielder Marina Paul (Aliso Viejo, Calif./Laguna Beach). Paul headed the ball toward the far post, but the ball was deflected and bounced back. Paul corralled the ball and took a half volley from about 12 yards out that beat LaSalle goalkeeper Jessica Wiggins to the far post at 46:11, giving GU a 2-0 lead.
"It was huge," Nolan said of the second goal. "I do think it ultimately took the wind out of their sails. Paul (Royal, LaSalle head coach) is a great coach and a master motivator. I'm sure he told his kids at halftime to really push for it in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half and they were thinking, `How much do we have to go for it now?' It was key."
The Hoyas had taken a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when junior forward Vanessa Skrumbis (Encino, Calif./Sierra Canyon) took a pass from senior Colleen Dinn (Kensington, Md./Holy Cross) and knocked it past Wiggins in the 28th minute. Kroening had sent a ball from just around midfield to Dinn on the far sideline and Dinn dribbled toward the end line before slotting it through to Skrumbis, who was on the near post. Skrumbis had a defender on her but managed to get a shot off that dribbled past at 27:01.
The Explorers had chances in the second half, but the Georgetown defense limited opportunities. A corner kick from Maryam Huseini was headed by Kelsey Haycook, but the shot went wide in the 69th minute. LaSalle was awarded a free kick just outside the GU box in the 78th minute, but the shot bounced in the box and Hoya defenders were able to clear it out.
"It's tough (when you go up 2-0) because we naturally feel like we can take a little bit of a breath, but for them it's more helter skelter, more taking chances, more being a bit reckless, and that put us on our back feet," Nolan said. "But for all the balls they had and the chances, I don't think they were going to score."
Nolan credited the work of his defensive midfield and the back line in Georgetown's 10th shutout of the season.
"I think we did a very good job on Huseini for most of the game, who is their sparkplug," he said. "There was a stage in the second half where she drifted into the space where we didn't have a player and we couldn't quite figure out who was responsible. I thought our two defensive center-mids, Marina and Kailey Blain especially in the second half, shut down that part of the field and forced them outside, where they're less dangerous."
This is Georgetown's fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they have a 4-3-1 record. The game against LaSalle marked the first home NCAA Tournament game in program history.