CARY, N.C. — Rain didn’t stop soaking the pitch at WakeMed Soccer Park and the Georgetown Hoyas’ scoring attack never relented.
The No. 3 Hoyas slipped and slid all over the field with the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal in the men’s College Cup semifinals, but Georgetown remained stout on defense and managed to put away a pair of goals.
For the first time since 2012, the Hoyas advanced to the College Cup final with a 2-0 win over Stanford on Friday in front of intimate crowd of soaked supporters. Georgetown will face the winner of Virginia and Wake Forest on Sunday.
“We’re thrilled. Thrilled to keep going for one more round of soccer. We’ll be ready to go,” Hoyas’ head coach Brian Wiese said. “It took a moment of brilliance from Sean Zawadazki to really set the game in the favor.”
Zawadzki was the hero for the Hoyas (19-1-3), scoring in the opening moments and providing service in the second half for Foster McCune, who scored on a header.
The pitch at WakeMed Soccer Park is one of the best maintained fields in the country and has regularly hosted men’s and women’s College Cups, U.S. national team games, NWSL and USL matches since it was built in 2002. But there’s one small area of the turf that doesn’t drain as well as the rest, and that’s along the 18-yard box in front of the south goal. Before the match, stadium staffers were pushing water away from that area.
But for Georgetown, it didn’t make a difference if the field was dry or flooded. Stanford (14-3-5) had to defend that south goal in the first half, and Zawadzki scored from just outside the box to put the Hoyas in the lead in the fourth minute.
Stanford’s Keegan Tingey thought he was clearing a cross with his head, but Zawadzki charged into the volley and hit it square with his right boot from about 20 yards out. The shot sailed to the left of the keeper and banged into the back of the net. Zawadzki and his teammates cheered and sprinted toward their bench to celebrate.
THE HOYAS STRIKE FIRST! 💥
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 13, 2019
“It fell right to me and I was like, ‘Might as well shoot it.’ Good thing I did, I guess,” Zawadawski said. “I was telling the guys in the locker room, that’s probably the cleanest I’ve ever hit a ball. It just felt good right off my foot. That opportunity doesn’t come a lot, so you got to make the most of it.”
It was the third goal of the season for Zawadzki, a 5-foot-9 sophomore from Olmstead Falls, Ohio, and an All Big East Second Team selection.
“On the night, they scored an unbelievable strike that’s worthy of winning any game,” Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn said. “When you’re going into a cagey semifinal in difficult conditions, that moment just gives them all the belief in the world and really took the wind out of our sails.”
Zawadski wasn’t done with his heroics though. In the 67th minute, he sprinted up the right flank and used some fancy footwork to make his way past three Cardinal defenders. With open space, he blasted in a right-footed cross that took a bounce in front of the goal and a touch off a Stanford defender before McCune guided the ball into the back of the net with his noggin.
McCune didn’t start, but played 15 minutes as a substitute – one of eight Hoyas to come off the bench. It was the third goal of the season for the 6-foot junior defender from Bethesda, Maryland.
“It was unbelievable. In a game like that, it doesn’t have to be the prettiest goal in the world,” McCune said. “So, I’ll take it. I think the guys will take it. Anything to get us on to Sunday is worthwhile. You saw us sliding into the corner. It means the world to us.”
Stanford managed to put just one of its two shots on target, but the 55th minute attempt was snuffed out by Georgetown keeper Giannis Nikopolidis.
In all, the Hoyas had nine shots and put four of them on target. Stanford also took four corners, but didn’t have any luck finding the back of the net.
“We were just second-best in so many areas. I think we didn’t quite adapt as well as Georgetown did,” Gunn said. “Georgetown was just a step quicker in all the different departments tonight. It wasn’t a beautiful game for either team… I don’t think there was any exceptional soccer out there from any player tonight, but they certainly had the upper hand.”