Relying on athletes fresh out of high school is a major gamble for programs looking to compete right away. The college level is a whole new world, especially when it comes to a top Division I conference like the Big East. Luckily for the Georgetown men’s soccer team, their gamble on freshman goalkeeper Tomas Gomez has paid off.
The Missouri native has proven that he’s no typical rookie, but his success did not come without early struggles.
“The first day I was terrible,” Gomez said. “I just got used to it.”
Gomez has already been tested like a seasoned keeper. With 42 saves this season, he’s faced penalty kicks, double overtimes, and arguably the most difficult thing to cope with – losing.
Last Friday’s loss to West Virginia was decided by just one goal. Gomez attempted to make the save and lost it off of his gloves, only to see the rebound retrieved for a decisive second effort.
Head coach Brian Wiese was forgiving, saying that it’s all part of the game.
“You’re playing on the road, and fans are right behind you yelling, calling your mom names,” Wiese said. “You have to be able to handle that. I think he’s handled it really well.”
As far as pressure goes, Gomez has handled it like a veteran, allowing just six goals this season. His .875 save percentage has earned the admiration of his coach.
“I would be drinking, you know, if it was my situation,” Wiese said. “I’d be under the table. It would make me nervous.”
Gomez has been a rock in crucial situations for the Hoyas this season. At Michigan State in front of over 1,000 fans, he came up with a clutch save on a penalty kick. Wiese credits the penalty save for the win.
His immediate success should not come as a surprise. At Webster Groves High School, Gomez set a new standard between the posts, earning goaltender of the year honors in Missouri after tallying eight clean sheets in his senior year.
“In high school, not a lot of people played competitively,” Gomez said. “Then in college, everyone, obviously, is playing Division I. The shots are a lot harder, the game plays a lot faster.”
Wiese knew he needed a goalkeeper coming into this season and Gomez looked like a complete player on his recruiting trips.
“He’s one of those kids, you look at him and say, ‘Well, he’s got all the tools,’” he said. “He kicks well, he’s got great presence, he organizes well, his shot stopping is good, he’s got a good frame to him, he looks like he’s a good leader ….you run through the little checklist and it’s all there.”
Even with the laundry list of skills, the unknown is frightening. Decision making in goal is an especially hard thing to measure, so even with all the tools, Gomez had a lot to prove.
“It’s like a fine wine,” Wiese said. “You’re supposed to get good with age. In general, the older you get, the better you get at goalkeeping. You always have these question marks about what a young goalie’s going to be like coming in.”
But Gomez’s composure has him looking like a player beyond his years.
“He doesn’t look like a freshman out there,” Wiese said. “People don’t believe he’s a freshman, when you play opposing teams and opposing coaches. I think that’s a great compliment for him.”
As a result, Wiese has no doubts about his goalie’s capabilities and future prospects.
“I legitimately think he’s one of the best goalies around,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”