Fourteen minutes into the Big East Conference soccer finals, former Laguna Beach High School standout Marina Paul (‘12) went down with a season-ending knee injury and had to watch from the sidelines as her Georgetown teammates lost 2-0 to No. 13-ranked DePaul on Sunday, Nov. 9 in Queens, New York.
Even with the loss, Georgetown earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament by virtue of its 4-3 victory over St. John’s on penalty kicks in the Conference semi-finals just two days earlier. The Hoyas will face Big 12 champion and No. 3 seed West Virginia in the first round on Saturday, Nov. 15 on West Virginia’s home field.
Paul, a junior, was a starting midfielder her first two seasons with the Hoyas before moving to center back this year to give the team more experience at that position. As a defender, she rarely gets an opportunity to shoot, let alone score. “I just kind of have to stay back and wait for corner kicks,” said Paul, whose jumping ability is an asset in those situations. “I have okay hops,” said the former all-league volleyball player at LBHS.
Those “hops” came into play early in the St. John’s game. As Georgetown’s Daphne Corboz set up for a corner kick, Paul broke free off a teammate’s pick and raced for the post. She timed her jump perfectly to meet the ball, heading it backwards into the net to give the Hoyas a 1-0 lead. “I looked back and it was in the goal. That was pretty sweet,” she said.
Paul was named LBHS Female Athlete of the Year in 2012 after leading the Breakers to an Orange
Coast League title her senior season. She earned her second straight league MVP award that year, scoring more than half (17) the team’s 33 goals from her midfielder position.
She went on to earn Big East Conference all-rookie honors her freshman season, scoring her first collegiate goal in her first game. She was also an academic all-American her first two years. “To be honest, if you’re not academic all-American on our team, you’re going to get it from our coach,” said Paul. “As soon as we’re on a plane or in the airport, or we have some down time, everyone has their books out and is studying.”
A first team all-Conference selection this season, Paul believes that “my team’s success is the biggest indicator of how well I’m doing as a player.” And for the third straight season Paul and her Hoya teammates are in the NCAA tournament.
Two days after the loss to DePaul and one day before a scheduled MRI to determine the extent of her injury, Paul was in relatively good spirits as she assessed Georgetown’s chances against West Virginia, a team the Hoyas tied 1-1 in double overtime last September. “If we really do play together on Saturday, I have full confidence that we’ll win the game,” she said. “I just need to become the best cheerleader on the sidelines.”