CARY, N.C. (AP)Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Romero stopped Virginia’s Axel Gunnarsson in the seventh round of penalty kicks to give the Hoyas their first NCAA men’s soccer championship Sunday night.
The teams fought through two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods after finishing regulation tied at 3, leaving penalty kicks to decide the game. Both teams made their first six penalty kicks, and Aidan Rocha made the seventh for Georgetown, forcing Gunnarsson to attempt to match it.
Romero guessed correctly on that kick, moving to his right to thwart the shot and give the Hoyas (20-1-3) the victory.
“For some reason, I just thought, ‘I think he’s going to go right,’” Romero said. “And I just dove right and saved it.”
Derek Dodson, Paul Rothrock and Daniel Wu scored in regulation for the Hoyas.
Virginia (21-2-1) countered with goals by Joe Bell, Daniel Steedman and Daryl Dike.
Georgetown appeared on the verge of winning regulation when Dodson broke a 2-2 tie with 9:37 left in the second half. But Dike forced overtime when he booted a rebound of his own miss into the top of the net with 4:58 remaining in regulation.
The Hoyas were playing in their second NCAA final. They lost 1-0 to Indiana in the 2012 championship game. Virginia was bidding for its eighth national championship and third since 2009..
“Obviously, it’s a tough way to lose, but I’m really proud of the effort this team put in,” said Bell, a senior midfielder for Virginia who is a finalist for the MAC Hermann Award as college soccer’s best player. “Obviously, Georgetown got the win today, but you kind of sign up for this when you start playing soccer. It goes either way. Tonight it didn’t go our way.”
Bell said competing in an overtime game just two days after winning in the semifinals led to fatigue for both teams that yielded more scoring chances than they ordinarily might have allowed.
Georgetown defender Dylan Nealis said he believed the Hoyas’ depth helped them persevere through that fatigue, as they used eight substitutes to Virginia’s three.
“We have some talented players on our team,” Nealis said. “From one to 28, everyone could step on the field and make an impact.”
Hoyas coach Brian Wiese said he didn’t set out at the beginning of the season to use so many players. But when the reserves got opportunities, they earned the coaches’ trust.
That faith was rewarded when Georgetown won even though several of its top scorers were too fatigued to participate on penalty kicks Sunday.
“It’s gratifying when you see players take chances that they’re given and do well with it,” Wiese said. “It’s something that has resonated with us throughout the year.”