When the Hoyas take to the pitch this fall, all eyes will be on standout junior forward Steve Neumann.
But back when he was an undersized teenager, Neumann was much easier to miss. In fact, if not for a personal appeal on his part, he might never have gotten the chance to play on North Kehoe Field at all.
The Pennsylvania native’s game was never in question — the issue was whether his small frame would be able to handle the rigorous nature of Big East play.
“If he had played against UConn, with these huge guys, he would have gotten run over,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said. Neumann, evidently, thought otherwise. In the spring of his junior year of high school, he asked to commit to Georgetown, without the coaching staff ever having extended an offer.
“We ended up saying ‘OK, fine,’ we’ll take you,” Wiese said. “We said ‘Sure, I guess. Hope we don’t regret using this spot.’”
For Wiese and the Hoyas, that turned out to be a fortuitous decision.
In his senior year, Neumann finally got taller. Now, as he begins his junior season on the Hilltop, Georgetown lists Neumann at six feet.
“[When he got his growth spurt,] the physical part of the game had stopped being a problem,” Wiese. said “[But] he had developed all these great tools to adapt to not being the biggest guy on the field.”
That makes Neumann something like soccer’s answer to Greg Monroe, a basketball center with point guard skills. And it makes it no surprise that Neumann has enjoyed so much success.
From the beginning of his freshman season, Neumann has been an impact player. He led not only theHoyas but also the entire Big East in points in his first year, when he also played a key part in Georgetown’s NCAA tournament appearance.
Neumann was also a force nailing free kicks during the campaign, something Wiese said his forward has an “innate knack” for doing. In recognition of all his success, he was named second team all-Big East and first team all-freshmen by Soccer America.
His efforts as a rookie seemed a tough act to follow, but Neumann hit the weight room hard in the offseason and came back better than ever. Scoring 10 goals and notching seven assists, he actually managed to top the previous season’s lofty point total en route to earning a first team all-Big East distinction.
The team has also rallied around Neumann’s leadership, with another honor being his election as a captain as he begins his junior season.
“He’s one of those guys that guys want to follow,” Wiese said. “He’s a natural leader.”
And that’s just one accolade among many for the forward, who was named preseason all-Big East, sits on the Hermann Trophy watch list and is a potential Generation adidas signee for Major League Soccer.
Expectations for Neumann are higher now than they’ve ever been, but if his track record is any indication, the former miniature maestro will more than rise to the occasion.
“He has the potential of being maybe the best player that this program’s ever had,” Wiese said.