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

Beasts of the Big East: Hoyas Clinch Crown

When yesterday’s game against Connecticut was postponed from its originally scheduled kickoff on Wednesday due to rain, Head Coach Brian Wiese had some extra time to think. He had to choosew whether or not to tell the men’s soccer team that the Big East had sent the Blue Division championship trophy to Georgetown. He wasn’t going to let them in on the secret Wednesday, but by Thursday he had changed his mind.

“Today I said, `You know what guys, screw it. Hey, by the way, the Big East has sent the trophy here just in case you guys sort it out. And it’s for you. It’s not for UConn,'” Wiese said.

The Hoyas (11-4-1, 7-1 Big East) sorted it out, all right. Living up to all the hype of their matchup with the No. 6 Huskies (10-2-4, 4-1-3 Big East), the Blue and Gray dethroned the reigning Big East Blue Division champions with a 1-0 victory at North Kehoe Field to clinch their first conference title in 16 years.

“Sounds beautiful,” senior forward and team co-captain Jose Colchao said of being called a Big East champ. “It’s awesome. The guys were just talking about when we were 2-3-1 heading into the first game of the Big East. . But since then with our momentum, I think we all knew we could do it today.”

The team has come a long way since it opened conference play with a loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 25. The Hoyas have now won nine straight overall and seven straight in the Big East en route to the most successful season in program history since the mid-1990s.

“Unbelievable. It was a tough start to the season, but boy did we turn it on,” freshman midfielder Steve Neumann said. “It’s great to win it for the seniors. They’ve worked here for four hard years.”

Neumann stole the spotlight yet again yesterday, scoring the game’s only goal in the 74th minute on a close-range header. Senior midfielder Henry Tembon passed back to sophomore midfielder Ian Christianson from deep in Connecticut’s half along the right sideline, and Christianson’s perfectly placed cross found Neumann in the six-yard box at the far post. The freshman sparkplug nodded the ball past Connecticut senior goalkeeper Josh Ford – who began the game with an NCAA-best 0.26 goals against average – and bedlam ensued.

“It was great to see all the fans cheering and my teammates so excited,” Neumann said.

But Neumann and the Hoyas still had to defend their lead for 16 minutes, and the Huskies did not go quietly.

“It was tough,” the freshman said of holding off Connecticut in the final moments. “They’re a great team, sixth in the country, and they have some really dangerous players up top.”

Senior goalkeeper Matthew Brutto was forced to make the only save of the afternoon for either side in the 76th minute on a long-range attempt by Connecticut freshman forward Mamadou Diouf, but Georgetown defended well enough in the end to secure the shutout win.

“It’s really satisfying,” Wiese said of winning the regular season championship. “Couldn’t be prouder.”

But the Hoyas hope that they have plenty of soccer left to play this fall.

“That’s one down,” Wiese said. “Next goal is to win the Big East tournament.”

The road to achieving that goal begins a week from Saturday when the Blue and Gray play host to the winner of the opening round game between the No. 5 seed from the Big East Blue Division and the No. 4 seed from the Red Division. The winner of that quarterfinal match at North Kehoe Field will then head to Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., for the tournament semifinals and final.

But before postseason play begins, Georgetown travels to Notre Dame later this weekend to round out its regular season schedule. The game, which has been rescheduled from Saturday morning to Sunday at 6 p.m., cannot affect the Hoyas’ conference standing but is still significant in their push for a favorable seed in the NCAA tournament.

Right now, though, it’s all about soaking in the Big East regular season championship. So how does a game-winning goal scorer celebrate?

“I don’t know,” Neumann said. “Maybe an ice bath.”

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