The Georgetown men’s soccer team won its fourth consecutive regular-season game last Sunday in a home game versus Penn State, good to keep them undefeated for the season.
Georgetown held possession of the ball for most of the first half, leading with 12 total shots on goal to Penn State’s zero at one point. The payoff finally came when senior midfielder Jimmy Nealis struck the ball off the right post in the 24th minute, causing it to hit an opposing defender and bounce into the net for the game’s first goal.
Early in the second half, the Nittany Lions mounted their counter attack in what Head Coach Brian Wiese described as seemingly “their only chance of the game left at that point,” when they sent a ball into the top left to tie. Although the official score sheet reads that it was 52 seconds later, Wiese assures it was only twelve seconds after the game was restarted that freshman Brandon Allen put the Hoyas ahead once more with his third straight game-winning goal.
“It was literally, three players touch it and Brandon Allen scores,” Weise said of the sequence. “There’s a mental toughness and a resiliency with this group that is able to handle the situations that you know a team without this kind of experience I don’t think would handle as well.”
After dropping the season finale last year to Providence University, the Hoyas have come back this year to start this season undefeated. They have trained to a point where they know they can go out on any given day and compete with even their most skilled opponents. Coach Wiese knows their competition will be a challenge as the season progresses, but has no doubts that they can continue winning. He has very strong hopes for this group and how the players work together.
“I think the composition of their group is a pretty unique one and a good one, because you know we have an incredibly strong senior class,” he said. “And we have juniors and sophomores that are contributing and pushing and some impact players in those classes as well.”
One major component of that, at least to Wiese, has been the emergence of the newest Hoyas to mix things up for this team.
“Our freshman class is as good as any freshman class in the country,” he declared. “So you get that blend of discipline and experience and mixing in with some guys that are excited…and talented.”
“We’ve had a few different scenarios where we’ve had to come through and each one of them we’ve come through successfully,” he said of the youngest team members.
Another major asset to the team’s success thus far in the season has been the aggressive and versatile play of Jimmy Nealis. After his performance against Penn State, Nealis was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week. The Hoya defense only allowed one goal in the team’s three games last week with Nealis heading the back line.
“Jimmy is an attacking minded defender … so we want him to be getting goals and assists,” Wiese said. “While I think the first goal against Penn State was an own goal, really it was a bullet from Jimmy that hit the post and ricocheted off a defender and went in. It was just as much a goal as anything else. [He] got the assist on the game winner in the second half. His job is to be into the attack.”
Allen has also been crucial, earning Big East Rookie of the Week honors after leading the Hoyas on offense. As one of the top recruits in the nation last year, Allen has delivered exactly what the Georgetown coaches were looking for. Many incoming freshman recruits are not able to keep up with the quicker rate of play, but with junior Steve Neumann joining him up top, Allen has adjusted well.
The Hoyas play for the first time on the road this Friday with a game in Chicago against University of Illinois. This team has played tough their last few games, with two one-goal losses to Big East teams and a 2-0 win over Ohio State. Coach Wiese estimates the energy will be at its peak intensity at game time and there will be no lack of competition.
“They’re not going to be intimidated by us,” he said. “I think we’re probably going to get their best punch at this stage in the season. We’re going to have to be sharp to get a result.”