MEN'S SOCCER | GU Boosts Resume With Marquette Win
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 00:10
Facing its third top-10 opponent in its last three Big East games, the No. 10 Georgetown men’s soccer team (12-2-1, 3-2-0 Big East) knew that it needed to finally come through on Saturday.
A loss to then-No. 2 UConn two weeks ago had been followed up by a 3-0 defeat in South Bend to then-No. 10 Notre Dame, suddenly leaving the Blue and Gray in a dangerous position.
No. 4 Marquette (12-1-0, 3-1-0 Big East) provided an opportunity during Parents Weekend for both a bit of redemption and a much-needed resume booster, and the Hoyas took it with aplomb, winning by a final score of 2-1.
“It was a huge win for us,” senior defender Tommy Muller said. “The whole year, we’ve known we have the quality to beat top-10 teams, and it didn’t fall our way [against] UConn and Notre Dame. So today we really wanted to make a statement and beat a top-5 team, and we did that, so we’re very pleased.”
“The losses definitely were tough to handle for us, especially the UConn game, [when] we came out here and played our game and played very well and just were unfortunate to be on the wrong side of that result,” junior forward Steve Neumann added. “But to come out here and get this win in front of all the alumni and all the fans was just very big for the program [and] very big for this year going forward.”
Neumann played a key role in his side’s milestone win, with his free kick service getting the on the board in the 22nd minute. The Pennsylvania native lofted a ball into the box on the restart following a Marquette foul, and senior defender Tommy Muller flicked it into the top-right corner to give Georgetown the early lead.
The ever-active Neumann nearly added another eight minutes later following a scramble in front of goal, but his near-post shot was ably stopped by the Golden Eagle keeper. The save gave new life to the visitors, who evened the score in the 35th minute off of a beautiful dipping volley from outside the 18-yard box.
In spite of customarily dominating possession in the opening half, the Hoyas were forced into the break all square. That deadlock wouldn’t last long, however.
After freshman striker Brandon Allen was taken down outside the box, Neumann once again lined up to take the ensuing free kick. When the whistle blew, the Hermann Trophy Watch List honoree deftly curled a shot around the wall and into the bottom-right corner of the net to restore his team’s advantage.
“Brandon did a great job to earn the free kick at the top of the box,” Neumann said, “and I just placed it in the corner and was fortunate enough for it to go in.”
And while it may have been Marquette that came into the contest known for its scoring prowess on set pieces, it was Neumann that made his mark in that category on Saturday.
The Blue and Gray were unlucky not to have gotten a couple of goals from the run of play, as senior left back Jimmy Nealis hit the crossbar in the 62nd minute and Neumann glanced a header off the upper 90 in the 69th.
“We could’ve had a few more goals and given our defense a little more [of a] cushion at the end, but they did a great job in the last 10-15 minutes withstanding Marquette’s push, just to clear out all the set pieces and corners and free kicks,” Neumann said.
Indeed, the hectic final stretch included a barrage of offensive opportunities for the Golden Eagles, including one sequence in the 78th minute when the ball ran right across the goalmouth but somehow went untouched.
But despite the intense pressure, the Hoya defense held strong — allowing only three shots on goal the entire game — to preserve the win.
“That’s something we had talked about ... all throughout training leading up to this game — they’re a very attacking-minded team, and they go forward very quickly,” Muller said. “We just made sure going forward that our back line was organized and in good spots, and communication was huge. We were able to do all of those things right today.”
The result of that success was the biggest regular-season victory in Head Coach Brian Wiese’s seven-year tenure. Prior to Saturday, the highest-ranked opponent the Hoyas had taken down under Wiese’s guidance was a sixth-ranked Connecticut squad at home in 2006.
After the game, Wiese made a point of singling out the upperclassmen for their leadership against Marquette but, above all, kept things in perspective.
“I think from our point of view, the result — the three points — is the most important thing, but how we managed to keep their game at bay was [encouraging],” he said. “[Games like these are] going to prepare us for the NCAA tournament, for getting into Red Bull [Arena] and hopefully trying to win the league.”
To accomplish those last two goals, securing the full nine points from the last three games — and, with them, a first-round bye in November’s Big East Tournament — will be essential.
Wiese stressed that his team is taking each game as it comes, with the next item on the docket being a fixture tomorrow at Providence (3-7-2, 1-3-0 Big East). The Friars are in must-win mode from here on out in order to avoid missing the tournament entirely.
Kickoff against Providence is slated for 3 p.m.