If their first two games are any indication, the Georgetown men’s soccer team is going places this season.

The Hoyas (2-0) made a statement at North Kehoe Field this past weekend with wins over Northeastern and Michigan State, upending the Huskies (0-2) in double overtime on Friday by a score of 2-1 and obliterating the Spartans (1-1) in a 4-0 rout on Sunday. Junior forward Uche Onyeador scored the game-winners in both matches off the bench and received Big East offensive player of the week honors for his performances. Senior goalkeeper Matthew Brutto was named the Big East goalkeeper of the week after notching 12 saves in the two games, including five in the shutout of Michigan State.

After an undefeated opening weekend, the Hoyas broke into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America top-25 national rankings and currently sit in the 20th spot ahead of the then-24th, now-23rd-ranked Spartans. Among teams in the NSCAA Northeast region, Georgetown is now ranked first.

On paper, Friday’s matchup with the Huskies looked to be the less strenuous of the weekend’s two contests. In the end, however, the 108-minute affair was anything but.

The Hoyas had the upper hand throughout the first half, but struggled to capitalize on chances when they materialized.

Senior forward Chandler Diggs appeared to be in on goal in the fourth minute with the help of a lofted-through ball by fellow senior forward Jose Colchao, but his first touch was too strong and was swallowed up by Northeastern sophomore goalkeeper Oliver Blum. Georgetown threatened again in the 21st minute as sophomore midfielder Ian Christianson’s turn-around try from six yards out during a scrum in the penalty box drew anticipatory gasps from the crowd, but again Blum was there to deny the Hoyas their first goal of the regular season.

Of the home team’s seven first-half shots, three were on target and turned away, but none came closer to finding the back of the net than Diggs’ attempt from 20 yards out in the 30th minute. Christianson laid the ball off just outside the box for the Coppell, Texas native, but Diggs’ one-timed shot lacked the rotation necessary to curl into the top-right corner.

Following a rather uneventful first 45 minutes, things got chippy from the get-go in the second half as the teams combined for three yellow cards in the first nine minutes of the period. Tempers rose and frustration mounted as the scoreless draw continued on a hot and humid day at North Kehoe Field, and tired legs began to take their toll on both sides.

But in the 66th minute, the Hoyas took advantage of a relaxed Husky backline when Christianson fed Colchao through a crowded space on a nifty flick at the top of the box after a failed clearance attempt by the visitors. One-on-one with Blum, the seasoned scorer slotted his finish into the left-side netting to give Georgetown its first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. As the ball rolled over the line, Colchao ran behind the goal on the east end of North Kehoe Field for an inaugural celebration with the new student fan section, which welcomed him with open arms.

“It was sweet,” Colchao said of the goal and his experience afterward with the fans. “We were all itching to get ahead there in front of the crowd and in front of that new section. It was awesome.”

After the goal, however, the Hoyas appeared to be a step behind the now-desperate Huskies. Just five minutes after Colchao’s strike, 5-foot-3 Northeastern freshman midfielder Dante Marini had a one-on-one chance from the left side of the box but was stymied by Brutto.

The visiting team continued to press as the clock ticked closer to a 1-0 Georgetown victory, and the home side was fortunate to escape a near equalizer on a header over the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

“We got the first [goal] in, and we’re thinking that’s the one that’s going to help us,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “I think the disappointment on the day was not being able to [hold] that.”

The narrow advantage finally slipped away from the Hoyas in the 84th when Northeastern junior midfielder Michael Kennedy dribbled across the top of the 18-yard box, drawing the attention of multiple Georgetown defenders before slipping the ball to wide open freshman forward Dale McDonald, who converted the opportunity and tied the game with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation.

“You feel mentally shattered at first,” Onyeador said of the allowed goal. “I thought we had the game won. We had the momentum for the most part in the second half, and for them to score at that [point], it was a bummer.”

For Brutto, the play came together too quickly to notice exactly what broke down on the defensive end.

“It was kind of a bang-bang play,” he said. “I’m sure after we watch film we’ll break it down and figure out what was the problem there. We get a goal and everyone sort of lets go a little bit, and guys were a little tired. Tired legs maybe could have been it.”

With the game tied and heading for overtime and the heat on the field unrelenting, a disappointing draw seemed a likely outcome for the Hoyas. And after more than 15 minutes of overtime, the idea of a goal coming in the final five minutes felt even more improbable.

But then Colchao was forced to exit due to leg cramps, and Weiss called on Onyeador as a substitute up top to look for the game-winner one last time.

“I was ready to go on because I saw Jose cramping up,” Onyeador said. “It looked pretty bad, so I was ready to go on as soon as I saw him go down.”

In the 108th minute, freshman midfielder Steve Neumann sent a long ball down the left side to Onyeador. The junior latched on to the pass, beat his man down the flank and found a small window inside the box to lace a left-footed shot across the face of goal and off the inside of the right post. The ball ricocheted into the left-side netting, giving Georgetown a dramatic 2-1 victory and setting off a frenzied celebration at North Kehoe.

“That was amazing!” Onyeador said of the postgame festivities. “The student section right behind me, the whole team running to me, it was a great feeling. The best feeling ever.”

Wiese was most impressed by Onyeador’s ability to stay dangerous throughout the match despite his infrequent and fleeting moments of playing time.

“He was in and out and in and out, and this was one of those games as a forward that he wasn’t able to get a lot of time to get into a rhythm. But having said that, Uche handled things terrifically,” Wiese said. “Since preseason, when he’s gotten chances he’s been finishing them. So I’m not surprised he did that. It’s just a matter of him getting more shots. Every time he shoots it, it tends to go in. He’s batting a thousand. . He’s a lethal finisher and his confidence is high right now.”

Onyeador’s individual effort in the waning minutes of overtime was the difference between a sobering draw for the Hoyas and an uplifting win in their opening game, and everyone on the team recognized the significance of that.

“Massive. Absolutely massive,” Wiese said regarding the gap between a tie and a win on Friday. “Instead of a `Coulda, shoulda, woulda,’ it’s, `We did it.'”

Colchao shared his coach’s view of the importance of his fellow forward’s late goal.

“I mean, it’s huge. It’s absolutely huge,” he said. “It’s tough to start the game at home with all these people and get all this excitement and then drop one. To win in that way is huge. It’s huge because it’s great momentum for the rest of the season.”

But having gone through the physical, mental and emotional drain of a double-overtime match in such warm conditions, the Hoyas were wary of the need to start preparing on Friday night for another grinder against Big Ten foe Michigan State on Sunday.

“Just a lot of rest, a lot of fluids and we’ll be good,” Onyeador said after Friday’s game.

Brutto shared a different view.

“I’m ready to play. I’m ready to go. I’m excited,” the goalkeeper said. “I could go play right now.”

Georgetown 4, Michigan State 0

With a win under their belt and newfound confidence from Onyeador’s clinical overtime finish two days earlier, the Hoyas took to the pitch for the second half of their opening weekend against the Spartans on Sunday afternoon.

ichigan State had picked up a big first win of its own on Friday, however, knocking off then-6th-ranked Maryland-a national Goliath-in a 4-3, overtime victory in College Park, Md.

“You don’t go into Maryland and score four goals against those guys without being one of the best teams in the country,” Wiese said of the Spartans. “I don’t remember who I told, but I said, `It’s not like today’s going to be a 4-0 game.'”

But then again, that’s why they play the game.

In the early going, Georgetown possessed the ball better than Michigan State but gave up about as many scoring chances as it produced. In the most exciting offensive play of the first half-hour for the Hoyas, senior midfielder Seth C’deBaca nutmegged one Spartan in the midfield and dribbled around another before passing off to Diggs, but the forward’s shot flashed across the box and wide left.

ichigan State had a goal disallowed in the 22nd minute when junior forward Rubin Bega was ruled offside. The 5-foot-8 striker then gave Georgetown supporters another scare in the 35th minute as he dribbled around Brutto in the box but missed a turn-around shot wide right of the post after regaining his balance from a long touch past the Hoya keeper.

The first shot to break the plane of the goal line on Sunday came off the foot of the same man who

scored the final goal on Friday. In the 38th minute, Onyeador bested Michigan State redshirt senior goalkeeper Avery Steinlage with his left foot from inside the penalty area, this time assisted by sophomore midfielder Jimmy Nealis. The Sterling, Va. product has yet to miss the back of the net with a shot this season.

“You couldn’t script it any better for him,” Wiese said of Onyeador’s two-for-two weekend.

The forward’s first-half strike would prove to be the game-winner again as the Hoyas continued to defend well throughout the remainder of the match, out-hustling the Spartans to win the majority of the loose balls in each third of the field.

“We worked a lot harder to win second balls, which is something our coaches stressed [after the Northeastern game]. We could keep the ball and possess the ball more,” Brutto said. “It wasn’t just coming straight back at us the whole game, which allowed us to win the ball in their half and continue [on the attack.]”

Even as they focused on preserving the clean sheet, the Hoyas made their opportunities on the offensive end count in the second half. The home team put another three goals past Steinlage in the last 45 minutes, and all three were recorded by underclassmen. Sophomore midfielder Andy Riemer notched an unassisted goal from just outside the box in the 53rd minute, tucking it away into the left corner; Neumann followed in the 69th minute by getting on the end of a cross from freshman midfielder Joey Dillon, placing the ball top-shelf from inside the area.

That goal was the first of Neumann’s college career, and he ended the weekend with that tally and a pair of assists.

“It was a great weekend for me, personally, but really it was a team effort. I just found myself in good spots,” Neumann said. “Joey put a good cross in and I was pretty wide open, and I just tucked it away.”

To cap the scoring, freshman forward Gabe Padilla combined with Neumann and Riemer for a three-on-one chance in the 79th minute and got the last touch on the ball, slotting it into the far corner with his left foot.

“You’re not going to be able to pull off two wins on these kinds of weekends without people coming in and lifting it,” Wiese said of his young players’ contributions. “I think today was a good example of our bench coming in and making us better.”

Brutto also gave credit to the underclassmen for providing a much-needed spark.

“It’s awesome for these young guys to come in and get time and get minutes and play hard and especially score goals,” he said. “Having them come out and contributing to the team at such a young age is huge for us.”

Sunday’s win over Michigan State marked the first-ever victory for Georgetown over a team from the Big Ten; they are now 1-2-1 against that conference. It was also the first time in almost two years that the Hoyas scored at least four goals in a game, and Wiese was pleased with how his team handled the large cushion.

“I think we handled it better than we did a year ago,” he said, referencing the squad’s 2-0 win on the Sunday of opening weekend last season. “We had a 2-0 lead against UCLA, [but] it was all hands on deck. Today it didn’t feel that way. I think today the guys were much smarter with how we played the second half. We didn’t give them a lot of opportunities, and that’s how you have to handle a team of that quality.”

The Hoyas now take to the road to try to defend their top-20 status in the national rankings against New Mexico and Denver in the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invite in Albuquerque, N.M this weekend. The Hoyas take on the Lobos at 9 p.m. tonight and finish the tourney with a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Pioneers on Sunday.

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