When one of our own is named the national coach of the year, it makes The Hoya’s pick for Georgetown coach of the year just that much easier.
Such is the case for 2012-2013, as men’s soccer Head Coach Brian Wiese was awarded the top honor by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America this past January — and rightfully so.
Last fall’s magical run to the national championship game, after all, didn’t happen in a vacuum, and it likely never would have happened without Wiese at the helm. The former Stanford and Notre Dame assistant had a vision that he wished to institute upon taking over on the Hilltop in 2006, and it took six seasons for it to be fully realized.
That vision wasn’t just about winning but about how to get there: In an era when the first part of the “student-athlete” moniker is going more and more unnoticed, Wiese wanted it emphasized. In fact, if a targeted player didn’t end up fitting that mold, he simply wouldn’t be recruited.
“It’s a major issue in the recruiting process, where he has to really evaluate them as a soccer player and them as a person and then a student in the classroom,” junior defensive midfielder Joey Dillon said in April. “Coach is very serious about what kind of kid they are, not just what kind of player.”
But the skill level component is, of course, essential, and Wiese had himself a highly talented group in 2012. It was also, up until the season dawned in August, an unaccomplished one.
The four star seniors of center back Tommy Muller, winger Andy Riemer, left back Jimmy Nealis and center mid Ian Christianson had picked up just one NCAA tournament appearance and win in what had been strong individual careers. A change in style from Wiese, though, would help bring out the best in his team and send off the future MLS draftees the way they’d always wanted.
“I think just the overall playing style that we played with throughout the year was big for scouts to see,” junior forward and Hermann Trophy semifinalist Steve Neumann said. “It wasn’t the normal college soccer perception of just kicking the ball long and bullying your way around.”
Indeed, possession was the name of the game for Georgetown in 2012, as the Hoyas routinely had the lion’s share of the ball throughout the season and allowed themselves time to pick out opponents’ weak spots.
The results weren’t exactly overpowering — only five of the team’s 19 wins came by more than one goal — but they were certainly methodical. And, as Neumann pointed out, they were pretty to watch, too.
It made it fun, then, for spectators, who by season’s end flocked to North Kehoe Field in droves, making the stadium standing-room only for Georgetown’s NCAA quarterfinal match against San Diego. A 3-1 win sent the Hoyas through to the College Cup and sent fans storming onto the field.
For a school that defines itself athletically so much by its basketball, it was another sport that managed to capture students’ hearts in December. Without our 2012-13 Coach of the Year, that simply wouldn’t have happened.
“Brian Wiese is a tremendous coach who, in my opinion, is a perfect fit for Georgetown University,” Athletic Director Lee Reed said earlier in May. “Oftentimes, the key to a coach being successful is if he/she is an institutional fit, and Brian is definitely that. He embraces what it means to coach at a university like ours.”