Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Surging Hoyas Reach Top of Division

Looking for the Big East Blue Division lead? Well, the Hoyas have it.

It did not seem probable three weeks ago when Georgetown (8-4-1, 4-1-0 Big East) had gone winless in five consecutive games and been shutout in its conference opener at Cincinnati, but with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Villanova Wildcats (7-5-2, 3-1-1 Big East) at North Kehoe Field on Saturday, the Hoyas extended their winning streak to six games and leapfrogged into first place in the Blue Division, one point ahead of the No. 5 Connecticut Huskies.

“I think this team’s got maybe the best chance of any team I’ve had here to really make some postseason noise,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “I think we legitimately believe that we’ll be at Red Bull Arena [for the Big East semifinals and championship]. And that belief comes with performance.”

Freshman midfielder Steve Neumann was once again the linchpin in the Hoyas’ win, contributing two goals and an assist off the bench to add to his team-leading 22 points on the season. The first-year sensation has tallied in each of the Blue and Gray’s last four matches and has scored twice in three of those games.

“He’s just in one of these grooves. It’s like a streaky shooter in basketball,” Wiese said. “Right now I think the goal just looks big to him.”

But early on, Neumann was creating chances rather than finishing them. After subbing on in the 23rd minute, the New Hope, Pa. native whipped a near-post corner kick for sophomore defender Tommy Muller whose headed attempt was saved by Villanova junior goalkeeper Chris Bresnahan.

Noted for their tendency to combine on set pieces, the Georgetown duo of Neumann and Muller nearly cracked the score line together again in the 36th minute when the former found the latter in the middle of the box on a free kick from 30 yards away. Muller’s redirection was sharp, but Bresnahan came up with another dazzling stop.

“I don’t know how you defend it,” Wiese said of Neumann’s free kick service. “It just comes in with such pace, and he’s very accurate.”

Two minutes later, Neumann and the Hoyas finally put themselves in front – albeit by accident. Senior forward Chandler Diggs’ cross from the left side ricocheted first off senior forward and co-captain Jose Colchao and then off Neumann, eventually finding a spot in the back of the net at the far post.

“The keeper had to have felt terrible,” Colchao said of the goal. “It just trickled in.”

But a goal is a goal, and Neumann has been finishing them one way or another all season.

“[I was] just in the right place at the right time,” he said. “But we’ll take all the goals we can get.”

And the Hoyas discovered that they would need at least one more in the 57th minute when Villanova freshman forward and leading goal scorer Dylan Renna split two defenders on the left side of the box and beat Georgetown senior goalkeeper Matthew Brutto with a well-placed finished to the top right corner.

“I just chalk that up to a really good individual effort by Renna,” Wiese said of the tying goal. “Sometimes you just tip your hat to a player and say, `Well done.'”

But it didn’t take long for Neumann and the Hoyas to reacquire their lead. The freshman neatly one-timed a pass from Colchao at the top of the 18-yard box into the left corner in the 62nd minute for his second goal of the day and his eighth of the year, making him 8-for-10 on shots on goal this season.

“Sounds like he’s got to shoot more,” Wiese said after learning of the statistic. “He’s got the Midas touch.”

By pushing forward for a late equalizer, Villanova left itself open to counter-attacks in the final stages of the match. On one such play, Neumann released Colchao with a through ball in the 89th minute, and the co-captain slotted it past Bresnahan to put all thoughts of a Wildcat comeback to rest.

With their win and Connecticut’s scoreless draw with St. John’s later that night, the Hoyas overcame the one-point deficit in the Big East Blue Division with which they entered play on Saturday and garnered sole control of first place. Given their recent successes and current standing in the conference, the Blue and Gray are candidates to re-enter the National Soccer Coaches Association of America top-25 rankings when they are released later today.

“We’re setting the table for a nice meal,” Wiese said. “Just [hope] whoever’s cooking in the kitchen doesn’t burn the roast.”

Georgetown begins its defense of the top spot in the Blue Division tomorrow at Pittsburgh, and while he’s humbled by the depth of the conference, Colchao is excited about the way this year’s Hoyas are handling the Big East schedule.

“This Pitt game’s going to be tough, regardless,” he said. “[But] our confidence and our play is maybe the best we’ve ever had.”

Kickoff at Founders Field is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow.

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