MEN'S SOCCER | GU Stays Unbeaten
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:09
Prior to the men’s soccer team’s game at Illinois-Chicago on Friday night, Georgetown Head Coach Brian Wiese and his staff discussed how their team would likely react if — for the first time this season — it were to find itself down a goal.
As it turned out, Wiese and his team would get two chances to observe the Blue and Gray in that situation over the weekend, and the final verdict in each case was positive. A 2-0 hole against UIC became a gutsy 3-2 overtime win, and an early 1-0 deficit at Wisconsin ended up as a 1-1 double-overtime draw in a contest that nearly turned into a second straight comeback victory.
Each scenario helped to reinforce what the coaches had already suspected about this year’s Hoyas: They’re talented, they’re confident and they don’t back down.
In the first game, a quick start by the Flames in their home debut sent GU into the break trailing by a pair. With few offensive chances to their credit, Georgetown didn’t look like a squad on the verge of anything special.
Except to themselves.
“The great thing about our team is that when we were addressing them at halftime, there was never panic,” Wiese said. “I told them at halftime that if we can keep it to a two-goal deficit, if we can just keep it at two, I guarantee we’ll win the game.
“I believed it, and I think I said that because I was looking at them, and I think they believed it too even before I said it.”
That belief was partially validated in the 68th minute, when freshman striker Brandon Allen scored for the fourth time in four games to put Georgetown within one. From there, Wiese knew that the next two would only be a matter of time.
Sure enough, senior winger Andy Riemer equalized 11 minutes later with his first goal of the season, later adding the game-winning goal seven minutes into overtime.
That heroic second-half effort didn’t carry over to the Wisconsin game on Saturday, as Georgetown once again found itself down early — this time off a Badger corner. After taking the lead, Wisconsin immediately bunkered, dropping deep into its own half in an attempt to hold on to its slim lead.
The space may have been clogged, but such a defensive strategy also meant that Georgetown was gifted 63 minutes of virtually unhindered possession. Junior forward Steve Neumann was taken down in the penalty area in the 65th minute, and senior midfielder Ian Christianson buried the rebound off his ensuing penalty kick to even the score.
From there, it was just a question of whether the Blue and Gray would be able to emulate Friday night’s ending. A number of close calls in regulation and in each of the overtime periods followed, but in the end, a winning goal frustratingly eluded the Hoyas.
“I think the guys feel like [failing to convert the game-winner] makes it feel a little bit more like a loss,” Wiese said, noting that Riemer came back to the Hilltop “devastated” by his inability to find the net on Sunday, despite his stellar outing two days before.
Senior center defender Tommy Muller sat out against Wisconsin as a precaution after coming back from a minor leg injury to start against UIC. Freshman midfielder Cole Seiler started both games, paired first with Muller against the Flames and then with junior Ted Helfrich against the Badgers.
When Muller is completely healthy, Seiler and Helfrich will battle it out for the second spot, but with Wiese pointing to the great upside that Seiler brings to the table, it seems as though the rookie will be the more likely starter going forward.
Even in the face of the extremely high level of competition behind the scenes, though, the camaraderie of the team is what defines the Hoyas when they take the field. Wiese described how all of the players on the bench were standing arm in arm, totally focused and zeroed in, as Christianson walked up to take his penalty.
“When we get to games, they’re absolutely one team, and they’re very supportive,” Wiese said. “All 25 of those players are absolutely dialed in to what the team’s goal is. And while we kick and fight and scratch and claw at each other’s faces on the practice field, I think there’s a real great feeling of brotherhood to them on game day.”
At 5-0-1, Georgetown is off to the best start in program history and will look to continue its success when it heads to Princeton, N.J., on Friday to take on the Tigers. The game begins at 7 p.m.