Peaking at the right time
Neumann's hat trick leads Georgetown to national title match
HOOVER, Ala. -- Heading into Friday’s national semifinal, Georgetown junior Steve Neumann had seven goals, the lowest season total for him in his three years with the Hoyas.
It’s safe to say he’s back to himself.
Neumann scored three times – including twice in 89 seconds – as Georgetown advanced to Sunday’s national championship match 4-3 on penalty kicks. The Hoyas and Maryland finished tied at four after two overtimes. Neumann also scored one of Georgetown’s penalty-kick goals.
“I had never had a hat trick in college,” Neumann said. “It was a pretty good time to get one, I guess.”
Neumann’s first goal came at 32:11 after a header to center it from Ian Christianson. That tied the game at one. The second, at 33:40 was a long-distance goal which bounced off the post and in from 28 yards out to give the Hoyas a 2-1 advantage, which they held until halftime. The third looked like something out of a video game, as Andy Riemer sprinted from the left side and centered the ball beautifully for Neumann, who slid it to the back of the net to make it 4-2 Hoyas.
It was the first hat trick in the men’s College Cup since Virginia’s Nate Friends did it in 1993 in a 3-1 victory against Princeton.
“You always dream about having big games like that on big stages like this,” Neumann said. “I’m just fortunate enough to have it at this point in the season.”
Neumann’s head coach, Brian Wiese, differed with his player just a little bit.
“He’s not fortunate, he’s good,” Wiese said.
Wiese also admitted to a bit of foreshadowing, although it may have been just a tad off-center.
“He had an unbelievable week of training before the [national quarterfinals] against San Diego,” Wiese said. “I had actually told him the day before [that game] that I thought he may have a hat trick, that he was due for a hat trick.
“He ended up getting two assists and he actually assisted on the own goal, so he actually had three assists,” Wiese said. “So we got that wrong. He actually got the hat trick [Friday].”
For Neumann, who was voted team MVP by his peers last year, the regular season was not a downtime, production-wise. He did have 13 assists heading into Friday’s game, but it was more like something was missing.
“Things just weren’t falling for me early in the year,” Neumann said. “I think I had like two goals in the first 12 games, or something like that. I had a bunch of assists, but I just had to stay with it and then I have a game like this where every shot I take seems to go in.”
But in the end, hat tricks not withstanding, Neumann prefers to think of himself as an offense-starter more than an offensive force.
“As a youth player, I always kind of thought of myself as a playmaker,” Neumann said. “I’ve been setting up [freshman forward] Brandon Allen for a few goals this year,” Neumann said with a smile.
Still, Friday is a night Neumann is not likely to forget.
“I can’t explain the feeling, three goals in the College Cup” Neumann said. “We just came out here to play a game and I guess we gave everyone a show.”