Georgetown’s wait to put together a full game must wait another week.
It wasn’t for lack of a standout first half against No. 6 Notre Dame on Sunday.
The Hoyas built a four-goal lead at the break, then watched the Fighting Irish rally for a 9-7 victory at the Multi-Sport Field.
Georgetown (5-6, 1-3 Big East) lost its third straight and scored only twice in the second half.
“We didn’t close the deal,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “We had opportunities and we didn’t get it done.”
It was a vexing day for the Hoyas, who found themselves at a decided possession disadvantage in the final 30 minutes after building a 5-1 lead.
That’s a bad recipe against Notre Dame (9-1, 4-0), which got 13 saves from goalie John Kemp and its usual stout play from a steady close defense.
“We’re always certain we can play good defense,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said. “At this point, that’s who we are. We know we can play good defense. That’s why we kept telling our offense, ‘You’re not going to have to score 15 to win this thing, but five goals isn’t going to win it, either.’”
The Irish found a happy medium even without a faceoff advantage. Instead, they relied on a deliberate offense unwilling to take lousy shots to wear down the Hoyas on a warm afternoon.
The impact wasn’t initially obvious, but the accumulation took its toll on Georgetown in the fourth quarter when the Irish scored five goals.
“It makes it a lot harder on the defense when you’re playing the whole second half,” defensive midfielder Gerry Reilly said. “We’re splitting time and having more possession in the first half, and I think guys were starting to feel a little bit of heat and get a little tired in the second half.”
Georgetown led entering the final period 5-4 even after surrendering a transition goal to long pole Bobby Smith just before time expired in the third quarter. But the Irish quickly tied it, then went ahead for good on Jim Marlatt’s extra-man score with 12:35 to play.
The Hoyas had the ball for little more than one minute in the six-minute stretch to open the fourth quarter.
‘Our offense did a great job in the first half possessing the ball, which is one problem we’ve had all year,” goalie Matt Winter said. “You see what happens when we possess the ball and we go up 5-1. We were making the stops we needed to stop up here and getting the ball up and out.”
It didn’t continue, despite solid work from Winter (10 saves) and solid man-down work (the Irish were 1-for-6).
The Hoyas must win their final two games (at Syracuse and at home against Rutgers) and receive help to earn their way into next month’s Big East tournament. Lose either, and the program will endure its first losing season since 1989.
If the version of Georgetown from Sunday’s first half can be harnessed, the Hoyas can still make a conference tournament push. That, by itself, offers a bit of hope after yet another loss.
“That’s indicative of what they’re capable of,” Urick said. “I’m kind of wondering on a day like today, it seemed like we went from spring to summer in one day. Did we go deep enough early enough? We actually didn’t play many more people than we normally would. I’m wondering now if we needed to get more people out there in different roles.”
—- Patrick Stevens