ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA Senior forward Steve Neumann was named to the watchlist for the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy last week.
Senior forward Steve Neumann was named to the watchlist for the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy last week.

Even if it’s only for a preseason game, any matchup against Syracuse — especially when it’s no longer a mainstay on Georgetown’s schedule — is cause for excitement. Although it won’t count against the team’s record, the No. 3 Georgetown men’s soccer team’s 3-1 loss to No. 20 Syracuse will be a tough one to swallow — and not only because the defeat came at the hands of the dreaded Orange.

After the Blue and Gray’s record-shattering 2012-2013 season, which ended with an unprecedented run to the College Cup National Championship, expectations for this season are higher than ever, rendering this early preseason loss that much more disappointing.

The Orange physically outmatched the Hoyas, racking up 13 fouls to Georgetown’s four. But the game’s most costly transgression fell on the Blue and Gray. In just the eighth minute, junior goalkeeper Tomas Gomez was called for a foul after a hard tackle, leading to a penalty kick opportunity for Syracuse that was subsequently converted.

Less than four minutes later, the Orange added a second tally to their total, putting the Hoyas in a 2-0 hole just 11 minutes into the contest.

Last year’s Georgetown squad was no stranger to come-from-behind wins, even pulling one off in penalty kicks against Syracuse in the third round of last year’s NCAA tournament. Sophomore forward Brandon Allen — who had 10 game-winners last year — immediately tried to work his magic again, nearly scoring twice in the minutes after the Orange’s second goal. Barring some activity near the Georgetown goal in the waning seconds of the half, the remainder of the first half was all Georgetown, with some stellar attempts from senior forward Steve Neumann to get his team back in the game.

The second half started out strongly enough for Georgetown, with Neumann and sophomore midfielder Josh Turnley putting immediate pressure on the Syracuse keeper. But the failure to convert caught up to them in the 57th minute, when Syracuse added its third goal to seemingly put the game away for good.

Despite a number of near misses — most notably from freshman forward Alex Muyl in the 69th minute, whose attempt was barely quashed by a gutsy save from Syracuse’s goalkeeper — the Hoyas were only able to get on the scoreboard with less than ten minutes to go, when Neumann converted a penalty kick to add Georgetown’s lone goal.

As the team heads to the West Coast to begin its season this Friday, questions remain about how Georgetown will cope with the loss of the members of last year’s vaunted senior class, four of whom were drafted by Major League Soccer. While the team has the talent to live up to its No. 3 national ranking, replicating last year’s success without the leadership of its eldest members may be easier on paper than it is in practice.

Notably, the remarkable stretch of one-goal victories that began last year’s slate — eight of the team’s first ten wins — may be difficult to repeat, especially if the Blue and Gray get off to such slow starts. Should  the Hoyas dig themselves into deep enough holes early, as they did against Syracuse, Neumann and Allen’s usual late-game heroics may not be enough.

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