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

GU Returns to Form Under Lights

With their backs against the wall, the Hoyas came up big Wednesday night.

Staring at the possibility of a six-game winless streak, the Georgetown men’s soccer team (3-4-1, 0-1 Big East) rebounded from its loss to Cincinnati over the weekend with a 2-0 triumph over Adelphi on a cool, damp night under the lights at MultiSport Facility. The match marked the first-ever regular season soccer game to be played at that venue as well as Georgetown’s first-ever home night game.

“It’s a good feeling,” sophomore defender Tommy Muller said. “That was a much-needed win. We all fought really hard, and you just have to want it.”

The Hoyas dominated possession in the first half and outshot the Panthers 8-1, but they remained unable to put the finishing touch on any of their chances into the late stages of the period. When freshman midfielder Steve Neumann set up for a free kick from about 30 yards out in the 42nd minute, it had been over three-and-a-half hours of soccer since Georgetown’s last goal.

But with the help of a flick-on header in the box from sophomore midfielder Ian Christianson, Neumann and the Hoyas ended that streak abruptly. Christianson’s touch beat Adelphi senior goalkeeper Thorne Holder and glanced off the far post, ricocheting back to eager Georgetown freshman midfielder Joey Dillon. The youngster wasted no time with the ball at his feet and finished the rebound from inside the six-yard box for his first collegiate goal.

“Dillon continues to be terrific,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. “Obviously, the young guys stepped up tonight.”

In the closing minutes of the first half, those young guys made their presence felt again. After Adelphi committed a foul in the same area as Neumann’s previous free kick, referee Paul Williams stopped the clock with 12 seconds remaining. The freshman lifted another ball into the box, this time finding Muller, who headed the ball with his back to goal in similar fashion to Christianson. Muller’s shot needed no put-back, however, as the ball skidded past Holder and nestled cleanly in the right side netting with nine seconds to play in the half.

“We had some opportunistic plays made,” Wiese said of the team’s late first-half goals. “It wasn’t just a lot of garnish offensively. Today we were much, much more dangerous.”

They were in the first 45 minutes, at least. But after halftime, the Panthers took it to the Hoyas and pressed the home side into several uncomfortable situations. Georgetown counterattacked on occasion, but Adelphi won the shots battle 11-0 in the second half and took seven corner kicks to the Blue and Gray’s two. Somehow, however, the hosts were able to preserve the clean sheet.

“They came out a little flat in the first half,” Muller said of the Panthers. “[But] they came out flying in the second. They pressed us really hard and didn’t allow us to play.”

uller anchored the backline Wednesday night with a new centerback partner, senior defender Ben Slingerland. Slingerland replaced his classmate and team co-captain Alex Verdi in the starting lineup last Saturday at Cincinnati and remained in Wiese’s first 11 for the Adelphi match.

“Sling adds definitely a better physical presence,” Muller said. “He’s good in the air, wins tackles. I like playing with him. I think we work well together.”

But removing a leader and long-time starter like Verdi from a lineup isn’t an easy decision to make. Wiese explained the move after Wednesday night’s win.

“[Verdi]’s still getting back into his form,” he said. “He just didn’t come in [this fall] with the level of fitness and sharpness with his touch that he needed to.”

Wiese cited Verdi’s inability to play in the spring season due to a January hip surgery as well as the senior’s summer finance internship in New York City as contributing factors to his lack of preparedness for the regular season. In an ideal world, however, Wiese would want to plug his experienced co-captain into the starting lineup.

“We need him,” he said. “We’re a better team when he’s on the park for us.”

But in the meantime, Verdi’s minutes belong to Slingerland, and he’s done an admirable job so far of solidifying the Georgetown backline. That job will get a bit tougher on Saturday, though, when Big East foe West Virginia pays a visit to the Hilltop.

“They’re an absolute challenge,” Wiese said of the Mountaineers. “They’ll be as good as any team we play. . If we win, it’s going to be a heck of a win for us.”

The Hoyas’ Blue Division rivals recently smacked the DePaul Blue Demons 5-0 to open their conference schedule, but the Blue and Gray feel that they’ll be up to the test.

“Hopefully we can generate some confidence and regain a little bit of that belief we had after the Michigan State game and get on a run,” Wiese said.

Saturday’s kickoff against West Virginia is scheduled for 1 p.m. at North Kehoe Field.

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