MEN'S SOCCER | Georgetown Triumphs In Pittsburgh Slugfest
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 00:10
Junior forward Steve Neumann’s performance this season was always going to go a long way in determining the Hoyas’ success. Being able to go into their big matchup against second-ranked UConn on Wednesday with Neumann on a hot streak, then, was especially key.
After its 3-1 win at Pittsburgh (6-3-2, 0-2-0 Big East) on Saturday, the No. 5 Georgetown men’s soccer team (10-0-1, 2-0-0 Big East) will now have just that.
The Pennsylvania native — named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List prior to this season — had a tremendous outing against the Panthers, feeding freshman striker Brandon Allen for two goals and icing the contest with a tally of his own in the 82nd minute.
“He’s a confident player, he’s a confident kid and he’s an important player for us,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said of Neumann. “He’s around a lot of the good things we do. Hopefully, that’s the start of a lot of goals that go in for him.”
According to Wiese, the crowd at Pittsburgh’s Ambrose Urbanic Field was likely the biggest the Panthers had drawn at home all season. It didn’t take long for Neumann and Allen to put the rowdy fans back in their seats.
The upperclassman started the sequence by finding his strike partner on a breakaway, at which point Allen worked the ball onto his preferred left foot and lashed one into the back of the net.
“At the beginning of the game, we were moving the ball around pretty well, and there were gaps opening up in front of their back four, and I was able to slip Brandon in a few times,” Neumann said. “Credit to him in the first half, he finished that one off.”
The second half largely had a different feel to it, as the hosts came out of the locker room with some serious vigor. And while this added aggresson did force junior goalkeeper Keon Parsa into his first real action of the night, it also led to five second-half yellow cards against Pittsburgh.
Wiese was proud of his team’s level-headedness in refusing to retaliate.
“We didn’t get caught up into us getting yellow cards back. There’s a lot of physical stuff, and there’s a lot of situations where guys were getting hit — nothing malicious, but it was a very aggressive second half — and I thought our guys handled themselves really well,” he said.
Another Neumann-to-Allen combo further helped the Blue and Gray’s mindset. In the 68th minute, Neumann found Allen after a scramble in front of the net off of a corner kick, and the freshman made no mistake en route to putting his side up 2-0.
That second goal, his eighth of the season, put the rookie alone atop the Big East scoring table.
After the Panthers got one back just over four minutes later, Neumann secured the win once and for all with a top-shelf effort from inside the box after a pass from junior striker Gabe Padilla.
Senior centerback Tommy Muller was back in the lineup for Georgetown after sitting out against James Madison, helping to limit Pitt to just six shots on goal in the contest.
Parsa — who currently leads the league in both save percentage and goals-against average — had five saves on the game, continuing his strong performance between the pipes as sophomore Tomas Gomez recovers from a shoulder injury.
It is not just Neumann then who will be riding high as the Huskies come to town on Wednesday. These days, in fact, with the team undefeated through its first 11 games, everyone on this Blue and Gray squad is confident.
“We’re not scared of anybody,” Wiese said. “If we do things right and play well, we’re going to be in any game we play. I don’t care who it is.”
Much more than just confidence will be needed against Connecticut (9-0-1, 2-0-0 Big East), but looking at the recent history of the matchup, an upset certainly would be nothing new.
In 2010 at North Kehoe Field, the unranked Hoyas defeated the No. 6 Huskies, 1-0, to claim the Big East Blue Division title. The game-winner in that game came off a combination between then-sophomore Ian Christianson and then-freshman Neumann.
Both will be on the pitch on Wednesday, memories of that momentous win — along with last season’s 0-0 draw against top-ranked UConn in Storrs — still in their minds.
“We’re confident. We’re on quite a streak here without losing,” Neumann said. “We know that it’s going to take some work to beat the No. 2 team in the country, but it’s an exciting opportunity for us and something we’re looking forward to.”
Kickoff for this top-five clash is slated for 3 p.m. at North Kehoe.