The No. 13 Georgetown men’s soccer team (7-1-3, 2-0-0 Big East) put their nine-game unbeaten streak to the test Tuesday night under the bright lights of the Multi-Sport Field, coming up victorious 2-1 against crosstown rival American University (4-6-1) in only their second time ever playing on the synthetic surface.
The non-conference match-up wasn’t a cakewalk by any means, though, as both teams fought hard for D.C. bragging rights.
“We’re so close to each other there’s such a natural rivalry,” head coach Brian Wiese said. “There’s always gonna be a little bit of an edge to it.”
Yet, the local rivalry was just one of the many dimensions of the game. The turf field certainly had an impact on the players as well.
“The ball’s a little bouncier here,” Wiese said. “It’s a little tighter, big boys are going to be be playing rough and in tight areas,”
Despite the physicality of the game, the Hoyas managed to get on the board fairly early. Redshirt senior Ben Slingerland connected for his first goal of the season with a header in the 17th minute off of a corner kick from sophomore Steve Neumann.
Before the Hoyas could catch their breath, the Eagles answered quickly, unleashing a breakaway 30 seconds later to even the score at 1-1. But as the first half was about to come to a close, Neumann swung in a corner that ricocheted in off the post, giving the Hoyas a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Nevertheless, Wiese wouldn’t have minded a little more breathing room.
“It would have been nice to have gotten another goal or two in there.” Wiese said. “We had the set pieces look very dangerous today.”
The goal and assist added to Neumann’s team-leading 16 points. Since Neumann has arrived on the Hilltop, he’s tallied a team-best 44 points, with junior Ian Christiansen a distant second with 26.
The Hoyas failed to build on their lead, but Wiese was happy with the way the squad protected the lead in the last half, especially after having let it slip in the first half.
“I didn’t feel too nervous in the second half at all … [they were] making things very predictable,” the sixth year coach said. “I think once we got the lead, I felt very secure that we weren’t gonna lose, the second time.”
The test from American might be just what the Hoyas need before they head out to Morgantown for a match against Big East rival West Virginia. The Hoyas will have their now 10-game unbeaten streak and undefeated conference record on the line.
“I think [West Virginia] had the longest home winning streak in the country,” Wiese said. “So they don’t lose games at home very often, and they’re a heck of a talented team. We’re gonna have to have one of our best performances to get any kind of result there.”
Players from the team could not be reached for comment.