MEN'S SOCCER | Allen Seals Another Win
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 11:09
In the 73rd minute of the Hoyas’ Big East opener against Rutgers (3-3-0, 0-1-0 Big East) Saturday, No. 9 Georgetown’s (8-0-1, 1-0-0 Big East) undefeated season looked to be slipping away.
Junior goalie Keon Parsa, filling in for injured sophomore Tomas Gomez, came off his line in an effort to stop a breakaway, slid and took out a Scarlet Knight attacker. The referee pointed to the spot, and the scoreless deadlock seemed destined to be undone.
Instead, Parsa redeemed himself in heroic fashion, anticipating the direction of the penalty kick correctly and stopping it cold. Freshman striker Brandon Allen would later complete his team’s stunning resurrection in overtime with a 95th-minute game-winner.
“That’s what [a successful season] has to have: guys making plays. And Parsa made the play that he needed to make to give us a chance to win,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said after the game. “Fortunately, I thought that from the start of overtime, there was a little more urgency to them, and it didn’t need to drag out too much longer.”
Still, the game was long enough as is, especially for a team that had already logged extensive minutes coming in: The Hoyas had played four overtime periods in their eight games before Saturday’s action. Contrast that with Rutgers’ five games total on the season, and you can understand why Wiese talked before the game about a potential difference in energy levels between the two sides.
But just as he did against Penn last time out, Wiese made apt use of his bench against the Scarlet Knights, and the team had enough left in the tank because of that to pull out the post-90 win.
The Georgetown goal was a long time coming, as only an outstanding performance from Rutgers senior goalkeeper Kevin McMullen had preserved the scoreline with a number of key point-blank saves on junior forward Steve Neumann in the first half.
“I thought our first half was very good. We should have maybe been up by a few at half, [but] their goalkeeper, I thought, played terrific,” Wiese said. “In the second half, to give Rutgers credit, they started carrying the game. We had a great chance early, and then after that, it was pretty static, from our point of view.”
Given the team’s moribund play and the fact that less than 20 minutes remained when the penalty was given, a conversion by Rutgers freshman midfielder Mael Corboz — younger brother of Georgetown women’s soccer standout Daphne — would have likely sealed things for the Scarlet Knights.
Thanks in part to a bit of psychological gamesmanship, Parsa didn’t let that happen.
“When it comes to penalty kicks, I try to read their first step,” Parsa said. “I wasn’t nervous about it, [but] his body language was kind of like, ‘I don’t want to take this.’ I saw him line up for it, and I [thought], ‘I’m already in his head.’ And the rest just kind of happened.”
The save energized the Blue and Gray, something that was evident in the way that they began to push offensively as the clock ran out on regulation.
Senior left back Jimmy Nealis rattled the crossbar with a drive from way out with five minutes remaining, and senior midfielder Andy Riemer attempted an audacious bicycle kick off of the ensuing rebound that went tantalizingly over the top.
Despite the teams’ combined 36 shots, more time would ultimately be needed to decide the outcome. Just five minutes in, though, Allen turned in traffic and found the bottom-right corner from just inside the box to record his fifth game-winning goal of the season.
“It’s really exciting,” Allen said of his overtime strike. “You don’t get many chances like that, but to get one and finish it feels really good.”
“That’s why we recruited him,” Wiese commented, speaking on Allen's abilities to come through in the clutch. “We’d seen that for a couple years with his club team, and he’s always been a goal scorer. We’ll keep pushing him for as long as he’s got goals in him this season. I think it’s pretty impressive for a young guy like that to continue to be able to have those kinds of impactful goals.”
It might not have been easy, but Saturday’s game gives Georgetown its first Big East win after already navigating a tricky nonconference schedule.
The Hoyas will return to out-of-conference play tonight at James Madison before facing off with league foe Pittsburgh Saturday.
JMU (3-3-1) has had strong offensive showings several times so far this season, most notably in its 6-1 thrashing of St. Bonaventure at home on Aug. 31. Two of the Dukes’ three losses, meanwhile, have come by just one-goal margins on the road, and they have yet to drop a home game.
Therefore, regardless of how James Madison’s record may stack up to Georgetown’s on paper, the Blue and Gray know that it is not going to be easy to come out of Harrisonburg, Va., with another win.
“[It’s] definitely a great start to the season, but [now we’ve] got to keep it up,” Allen said.