Nov. 20, 2010

The winning ways continue for the Georgetown University women's soccer team. Rather than play two overtimes and go to penalty, this time the Hoyas took care of things in regulation. But they didn't save much time, as junior forward Samantha Baker (Long Beach, Calif./Wilson) scored off a corner kick with 44 seconds left in regulation, lifting Georgetown to a 1-0 win over Minnesota in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at Elizabeth Lynn Robbie Stadium.

The Hoyas, who improved to 15-6-2 overall, advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where the team will face Ohio State, 3-2 winners over Virginia. Georgetown, one step away from the Final Four in its second-ever NCAA Tournament, will play the Buckeyes on Friday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m.

"I'm thrilled for the kids," Head Coach Dave Nolan said. "They work hard and as the season has gone on, we've gotten better and better. The schedule we put together this year has really helped because I think they can see that they can play anyone in the country. There a confidence about them now that has really carried us."

As has been the case all season, the Hoyas were dangerous on set pieces. A foul on Minnesota in the 89th minute gave the Hoyas a throw-in and the Gophers had trouble clearing it, leading to the corner kick.

Baker's corner from the right flag sailed up and bounced off Minnesota goalkeeper Cat Parkhill at 89:16, giving the Hoyas a 1-0 lead with 44 seconds left that they would not relinquish.

"I stepped up and I knew I had to get in on top of her," Baker said over the phone. "Dave had just said to test the keeper. I saw that there was a minute and I took a few seconds to make sure I wasn't rushing anything. I knew we had the time, I just had to get the delivery right."

It's not the first time that Baker has gotten the delivery right, as the goal to send Georgetown to the Elite Eight was the third one this season she has scored directly off a corner kick.

The other two goals - first at James Madison and then against Fairfield - were also game-winners.

"That's Samantha," Nolan said. "It's either feast or famine with her sometimes. She has an ability to make big plays in big moments and she made a big one for us today."

The game appeared to be headed to overtime after an evenly played match throughout. Minnesota out-shot Georgetown overall, 11-10, with the Hoyas owning a 6-4 advantage in the first half and the Gophers a 7-4 edge in the final 45 minutes.

Senior goalkeeper Jackie DesJardin (Sunnyvale, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), who made two saves in penalty kicks to deliver the Hoyas a win over Maryland in penalty kicks, came up big again, with five saves.

"It's a huge win," Nolan said. "We're kind of like this little team. We're not a perennial NCAA team yet. In 2007, we were just happy to get in and the last couple of years were kind of tough and we just didn't have much luck. This group has been pretty determined from the start. I knew we had the talent, it was a matter of putting it together and staying healthy. We lost two key players to injury (senior Caitlin Durkee and sophomore Catherine Cabot), but we've had other kids step up to the plate. Christina O'Tousa and Kailey Blain stand out as kids who have really just stepped up and helped us out."

The Hoyas will advance to play Ohio State, the Big Ten regular season champions.

"They went down to the University of Virginia and won at the University of Virginia, that speaks volumes," Nolan said. "You're playing against a top team. It's just one of those challenges, but we're not going to go just to make up the numbers. We don't plan to just show up."

The victory was the 15th this season for the Hoyas, setting an all-time school record for wins in a season and giving Nolan his 80th career win on the Hilltop.

"This is a huge win and it's dedicated to the kids who have been through this program, kids who fought hard to get respect," Nolan said. "And I know judging from all the notes I've gotten, there's not a prouder bunch of alums than our group now."