The two most consistent teams in the country in 2019 will go head to head Sunday night for the NCAA men’s soccer national championship when the Virginia Cavaliers and the Georgetown Hoyas take the pitch. The College Cup finals feature the top two defenses in the country, and are we in for a heavyweight battle.
About the programs:
You already know about Virginia. The Cavaliers have seven national championships under the program’s belt, the third most in NCAA. Virginia’s been to the College Cup a total of 13 times including this year. Of the previous 12, they’ve advanced to the championship match eight times. Winning the title seven times in eight tries is not too shabby.
On the other side, Georgetown has never won an NCAA Men’s Soccer title. The Hoyas have made it to the College Cup only once in school history, fairly recently in 2012, but lost in the finals to 8-time Cup winner Indiana.
How we got here:
The ‘Hoos advanced to their ninth title game in program history on the back of All-American forward Daryl Dike. The sophomore opened the scored period in the 19th minute when he took a ball over the top and smashed his eighth goal of the year past a helpless Demon Deacon goalkeeper. He followed, just four minutes later, to double the lead when he rose to a Daniel Steedman corner kick and nodded it home. The Virginia back line was its normal brick wall self and, aside from conceding a 79th minute goal via penalty kick, did enough to limit a potent Wake Forest attacking unit and see the game out for a 2-1 victory.
On the other side, the Hoyas took care of business in the first semifinal of the night—a convincing 2-0 victory over the Stanford Cardinal. In what became a theme for Friday’s games, Georgetown got an opening goal screamer of their own, a fourth minute full-volley off the boot of Sean Zawadski. They continued to dictate the pace of play through suboptimal weather conditions and added an insurance goal from Foster McCune to see out a complete performance.
The Hoyas are the deepest team in college soccer and are not afraid of going 20-deep on the bench. They have rolled through this tournament opening with 5-0 and 5-1 wins against ACC opponents in Pitt and Louisville, respectively. They met Washington in the Elite 8, coming from behind to dispatch the PAC-12 champs 2-1 before pummeling Stanford in the semifinals.
This is going to be a very entertaining college soccer game. Both teams love to knock the ball, and as such, the midfield battles will be critical. Junior Jacob Montes, Big East Midfielder of the Year, is one to watch for the Hoyas. He is a creative midfielder with fantastic vision and has accounted for 11 goals and five assists on the season. Along with junior forward Derek Dodson, who has 10 goals and eight assists, Georgetowns’ offense, amassing 53 goals on the year, will flow through these two.
Defensively, senior defender Dylan Nealis is the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time first team All-Region selection. He is one of three MAC Hermann Trophy finalists, next to Virginia junior midfielder Joe Bell and Clemson’s Robbie Robinson. Nealis has been instrumental in Georgetown’s 13 shutouts on the season and just 11 goals allowed (0.46 GAA)
Head Coach Brian Wiese is one of the most respected names in college soccer and look no further than this year’s Hoyas if you want to know why. They play possession soccer when they have the ball and have an absolutely suffocating press at their disposal when they down. They have found a knack for pinning teams deep in their own half.
Virginia has been fantastic all season at playing out of the back. Keep an eye on the Hoos’ ability to play through the Georgetown press—if they can find a way to do so, they will more than likely be adding the eighth star to the UVA kit.
The teams take the pitch at 6:00 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.