MEN'S SOCCER | Freshman’s Clutch Strike Sends Hoyas to 2-0 Start
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 00:08
In their first match of the season at newly renovated North Kehoe Field, it looked for a while as though Georgetown’s men’s soccer team would go out with a largely lifeless, goalless draw against Florida Gulf Coast.
Freshman striker Brandon Allen didn’t let that happen.
Collecting a long punt in the 81st minute, Allen rifled a shot to the top-left corner, over the FGCU keeper’s outstretched hands, to deliver the game-winner in the first home game of his collegiate career.
“It was from [sophomore goalkeeper] Tomas [Gomez], and I kind of got it to my feet, turned on the defender and smacked it far post,” Allen said.
Not a bad way to open your account on the Hilltop. From there, all the Hoyas had to do was run out the clock. They did much more than that, though, nearly adding a number of insurance goals in the final eight minutes of the contest.
Senior left back Jimmy Nealis, who brought some great runs and service to the attack along his flank, also had a rocket of a shot that was headed for the top-left corner before it was just touched over by the Eagles’ keeper. The score remained 1-0 up to the final whistle, but Georgetown did more than simply bunker with the lead.
“The second half, I thought, was very, very good. I was happy with how [we controlled it], and it was a special finish by [Allen] there to win it,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “It’s a great result. Florida Gulf Coast is a great program — two-time defending [Sun Belt] conference champions.”
“They have a lot of young guys, a lot of really talented guys, [and] they keep the ball really well,” Wiese explained. “It’s a good result for us. We’re very happy with that. I don’t think we started the game particularly well. I think it was a slow, almost boring performance [in the first half], to be honest with you.”
Part of what contributed to that sluggish opening 45 minutes was defensive work by the Blue and Gray, which didn’t allow the opposing attack many good opportunities. Senior Tommy Muller and junior Ted Helfrich, both centerbacks, were rock solid in the air to stifle Florida Gulf Coast attacks, while junior defensive mid Joey Dillon made sure that most of the visitors’ possessions didn’t even reach his backline. As a result, Florida Gulf Coast didn’t have a single shot on goal by the intermission.
“That kid works his tail off for everyone around him,” Wiese said, calling Dillon his “man of the match.” “He’ll almost never show up in the score sheet. He does so much for us. [When] you start going through the team, the one guy that I don’t think we can replace is Joey Dillon. He’s maybe your guy that, if you take him out, we’re at a loss. For what he does for us, he’s special. He gets none of the accolades for it, but he’s maybe our most important player.”
On most days, Dillon might get lost in the shuffle amidst stars like senior midfielder Ian Christianson, junior forward and Hermann Trophy watch list honoree Steve Neumann and Gomez. Not today.
Neumann, meanwhile, uncharacteristically struggled to find a foothold in the game; other than a long-range effort that tested the goalie in the 41st minute, the junior was largely a nonfactor. Thankfully, his strike partner Allen was there to provide the one moment of brilliance Georgetown needed to come out with the win.
“With [Allen], it was only a matter of time,” Wiese said. “He does that every day in training. He’s a natural goal-scorer. … He really created that on his own [and] did very, very well with the finish, so hopefully that gives him a little confidence and he can build off that.”
Allen won’t be the only Hoya feeling confident after Monday’s win. Combined with the team’s season-opening overtime victory over 11th-ranked Virginia on Friday, Georgetown has begun its season with a perfect record against two quality opponents.
Next up for the Blue and Gray will be another test at home on Friday against Cal State Northridge, which is fresh off a win in the Wilson Titan Classic. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.