WASHINGTON – No. 5 ranked Georgetown moved into the second round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 win over St. Francis (Pa.) at Shaw Field.
Senior forward Grace Damaska put Georgetown on its way to a comfortable if largely pedestrian victory with her 14th goal of the year before defender Marina Paul added an insurance goal in the second half.
The Hoyas (17-2-3) next host No. 22 ranked Rutgers in this Friday’s second round after setting a program record of 17 wins in a season.
“We’re happy to win and we’re happy to advance,” said Georgetown’s head coach Dave Nolan after the game. “Going into these kind of games is never easy.”
Nolan kept faith with the 11 starters that overcame regular season winner Marquette to lift Georgetown’s maiden Big East Championship title last Sunday.
St. Francis entered the tournament for the third time in program history riding an impressive sequence of eight wins in nine games that carried the Red Flash to the Northeast Conference’s regular season and championship titles.
The visitors were content to sit deep throughout the opening minutes with their back four rarely straying to the halfway line. Georgetown took a while to exploit the space being afforded to them with most of the early chances arising from corner kicks. Damaska, Paul and Taylor Pak could not use their height to convert a series of excellent deliveries from Rachel Corboz.
Georgetown pieced together its first cohesive attacking move on 20 minutes when Caitlin Farrell found Amanda Carolan with a driven cross to the front post. Carolan’s layoff was perfectly placed for Chloe Knott’s arrival. The junior midfielder from New Zealand could not execute a clean strike at Julia Hernan’s goal.
Hoyas left-back Corey Delaney pushed forward as Georgetown’s struggles to get on the board continued. The breakthrough arrived on 30 minutes when Damaska’s diagonal run from left wing to center was not tracked by the Red Flash defense. Corboz clipped an excellent pass into the space for Damaska to roll a shot beyond Hernan’s reach.
Home substitutes Paula Germino-Watnick and Crystal Thomas brought a spark toward the end of an enervated first period. The former’s hustle to chase down a loose ball and beat a couple of defenders brought appreciative applause from Georgetown fans. The latter presented Carson Nizialek with an open goal on the stroke of the interval. Nizialek somehow cushioned her volley over the crossbar.
Former Spanish youth team forward Gabi Morales showed some glimpses of her astute soccer mind for St. Francis early in the second half, dummying one pass to leave an overlapping teammate in space before causing problems with a bending run behind the Hoyas’ center backs.
Georgetown quickly regained control. Damaska stung Hernan’s palms with a drive from the left of the box after Corboz and Farrell’s set-up.
The Hoyas effectively ended the contest from the resulting corner kick on 52 minutes. Paul showed real determination on this occasion to outmuscle Hernan and her defenders before heading Corboz’s cross into the net.
Big Ten Tournament runner-up Rutgers progressed to the NCAA Tournament second round with a 3-0 win over Harvard on Saturday evening. The Scarlet Knights reached the College Cup last year before losing to eventual champion Penn State in the semifinal.
Georgetown (4-2-3-1): Arielle Schechtman – Corey Delaney, Marina Paul, Elizabeth Wenger, Drew Topor – Taylor Pak, Chloe Knott – Grace Damaska, Rachel Corboz, Caitlin Farrell – Amanda Carolan
St. Francis (4-3-3): Julia Hernan – Jessica Keller, Allison LaDuke, Shannon McGinnis, Casey Gallaher – Siobhan Bross, Sara Suler, Leah Hardin – Alyssa McGhee, Abigail Tarosky, Gabi Morales
30’ GEO – Grace Damaska (Rachel Corboz)
52’ GEO – Marina Paul (Rachel Corboz)