Seniors Caitlin Farrell and Arielle Schechtman have led Georgetown soccer to the brink of its second College Cup in program history.
WASHINGTON — Many people think of Thanksgiving as the reason to go home, to cook and eat and relax with family. All the way back before the season began, the Georgetown women’s soccer team had something else in mind for this Turkey Day.
“One of our goals at the beginning of the year was always to spend Thanksgiving together,” said senior forward and leading goal-scorer Caitlin Farrell.
The way the soccer calendar unfolds, playing that deep into November means playing for the chance to go to the College Cup, NCAA soccer’s Final Four, a destination the Hoyas have reached just once, two years ago.
“This is my third fall in D.C. and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend two Thanksgivings with the team,” said senior goalkeeper Arielle Shechtman. “It’s one of the coolest parts. You’re not thinking about not going home — you’re thinking about being with your second family.”
The Hoyas have earned the chance to do just that thanks to a season of perseverance that sees them peaking at just the right moment. A 16-0-3 regular season earned them a No. 1 seed and the chance to play at home in the NCAA Tournament. After trailing Central Connecticut State 1-0 at the half in their opening round game, the Hoyas haven’t been behind since. They beat the Blue Devils 3-1, Washington State 1-0, then netted four goals against 4-seed Duke, which hadn’t allowed either of its previous opponents to score in a 4-1 victory.
That sets up Saturday’s noon game at Shaw Field on campus against 2-seed Baylor with a trip to the College Cup on the line.
After netting the opening tally against Duke last week, Farrell is tied for third in the nation in scoring with 18 goals and is the most prolific scorer remaining in the tournament. She also ranks in the top 10 in the country in shots on goal per game (2.43), providing a constant threat around the net.
“Scoring goals is great, but someone’s giving me that assist,” she said. “Everyone’s been putting me in those positions where I just have to tap it in.”
Schechtman, meanwhile, leads the nation in with shutouts in 14 of her 21 starts and is second in goals against average (. 322) and save percentage (. 913). She sees that as a byproduct of everything coming together between all the lines, from the defense up to the forwards.
“Yes, it’s great to have those stats, those numbers, to build on them from last year, years prior. But it truly is the team just finding their form,” she said. “Even looking at the beginning of the season to now, I think that everybody’s kind of found their rhythm and is used to playing with one another.”
If Georgetown wins Saturday, they’ll travel to Cary, North Carolina, just down the road from last year’s first-round tournament exit, a 0-0, penalty kick loss at Wake Forest. But there’s no wariness when talking about where the team has come up short in the past, only the hope for redemption and a deeper run right now.
After all, the team has already had a litany of obstacles dropped in front of them this year. They had a game earlier this year moved to a turf field. Their “home” game vs. George Mason ended up being played AT George Mason. Even their second-round tournament game against Washington State was pushed to George Washington’s campus because of weather.
That’s only served to strengthen their bond, though. One of their team mantras is 2-7, as in the importance of all 27 members of the team working together, pushing each other to be their best, no matter what comes.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot of things being thrown our way,” said Farrell. “I think that’s what’s been great this year, is that we’ve all come together — all 2-7 of us have come together — to just deal with it, move past it, and do everything we can to just play the game of soccer.”
All 2-7 of them will get to enjoy the Thanksgiving they’ve been hoping for all season together this weekend, and get the chance to go further than the program has ever gone before.
Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.