It's always a great feeling to see Georgetown beat the #1 team in the country, whether in basketball, soccer, or any other sport. That's exactly what happened Monday afternoon, as the Hoyas men's soccer team defeated the #1 ranked UCLA Bruins on Shaw Field by a score of 3-1. The Hoyas rode an excellent performance in net by freshman goalie J.T. Marcinkowski, who saved six of seven shots, as well as a two-goal game by forward Brett Campbell to victory. As always, it was quite the spectacle.
I personally arrived around fifteen minutes before kickoff, but was able to secure my usual spot right behind the near goal. The crowd filled up quickly right around game time, with every seat filled in the stands and students almost completely surrounding the other three sides of the field. As the game kicked off and UCLA dominated possession early, the crowd remained pretty subdued. The Hoyas got it going quickly, however, and from around five minutes in onward took control of possession. Most of the game was being played a bit far away for me to see, but considering that I was behind Georgetown's goal, that was a good thing.
Despite the relatively constant pressure, the Hoyas were unable to get off a shot in the first thirty minutes. The closest the Hoyas were able to get was about ten minutes into the match off a free kick awarded after forward Alex Muyl was tackled. The free kick was blocked out, as was the ensuing corner, and nothing, not even a shot, came of it. UCLA was able to bring the ball back to Georgetown's end, however, but midfielder Christopher Lema got in the way of an attempted cross from UCLA forward Abu Danladi.
With about fifteen minutes to go in the first half, the Hoyas finally got their first shot off, but UCLA goalkeeper Juan Cervantes deflected it out. As the first half wound down, the crowd started to pick up, as we launched into our first "Hoya Saxa" chant of the game. With a little over six minutes in the first half, forward Brett Campbell put in his first goal of the game and sent the crowd into a frenzy. The assembled students chanted and clapped, with another "Hoya Saxa" chant resonating across the pitch. Campbell nearly put in a second one less than a minute later, but missed it just wide.
The second half brought a new source of entertainment, as the assembled crowd who had been on the other end came over to the end where I was situated with the intent of heckling UCLA's goalkeeper. Given that his first name was Juan, most of the verbal barrage related to Juan-themed puns. They joked that he listened to "Juan Direction" or that he was "Number Juan." It must have frazzled him early in the second half, as a second goal snuck in over Cervantes' head for the second Georgetown goal. It came off a header and sources disagree as to who scored it. The Hoya listed Matthew Ledder as the scorer, while GU's official box score listed Arun Basujlevic. The crowd became increasingly confident with a two-goal lead, and with a relative lull in play after the Hoyas made it 2-0, took the time out to focus squarely on Cervantes. The section behind the goal serenaded him with a version of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" as well as a parody of Bob Marley's version of "People Get Ready" where the chorus was changed to "Juan Love."
On the other side of the pitch, meanwhile, UCLA turned up the pressure on offense, forcing Hoyas goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski to make a couple of difficult saves, including one off a two-on-zero breakaway. The Bruins broke through off a corner kick with twenty minutes left in the match, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Hoyas. Marcinkowski made up for the allowed goal with a diving save with around ten minutes left that prevented a game-tying goal. Meanwhile, the crowd decided to make negative assumptions about UCLA's goalie. While some were a bit too vulgar for publication, some included "Juan watches Dr. Oz" and "Juan votes for third parties on purpose." Somebody asked him how many licks it took to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, to which another fan replied, "Just Juan."
The Hoyas were able to bring the ball back to the box and had a couple of chances late to put the game away. With three minutes left, after an earlier near-miss, Brett Campbell guided one into the net for his second goal of the game, bringing the advantage to 3-1. It was at this point that the fans broke out the presumptive chants, including "I Believe That We Will Win," "Olé, Olé," and a group rendition of "Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye." With just a few seconds left, however, the heat in the air got to the players on UCLA's team, as the Bruins took out Hoyas players on a couple of occasions with some hard fouls. With around twenty seconds left, some players from both teams got into a brief skirmish. No cards were assessed from that and the referees let the game play out. The students chanted "Scoreboard" and pointed in the direction of the 3-1 score.
The final buzzer sounded, and the Hoyas had gotten their first victory of the year. While the early goings have been tough for Georgetown men's soccer, this victory should energize the squad. This year's team has had some very high expectations, and the team should be even better once star defenseman Joshua Yaro returns from his injury. Expect more good things from this team as they contend for a National Championship.