Photo by ISIphotos.com
By MICAH McVICKER
Nearly nine months later, Steve Neumann called his performance “surreal.” The New Hope, Pa., native collected his first career hat trick in third-seeded Georgetown’s national semifinal contest against the second-seeded University of Maryland Terrapins. It was the the first three-goal performance in the College Cup since 1993.
“It’s still a bit surreal,” he told SBI in a phone interview. “Looking back on it, it was a good time to get my first hat trick in college. It was just a well-played game by both teams. It was one of our best performances that we had all of last year.”
Maryland Coach Sasha Cirovski said after that game that it was the “greatest semifinal in the history of college soccer.”
Neumann modestly discussed his accomplishment.
“Obviously, I was at the right place at the right time for those goals,” he said. “A few guys set me up for pretty easy looks. You can attribute that to the team and how hard we worked all year.”
Coach Brian Wiese, in his eighth season, said Neumann, a late-bloomer, is a team-first guy.
“He’s always been that way,” Wiese told SBI in a phone interview. “He’s very good. Good players are in the right place at the right time. I think he appreciates how good the team was that day, and that allowed him those opportunities. He’s incredibly cognizant about what is going on in the game around him. He’s got an amazing soccer IQ. He always puts the team first.”
In 2013, Neumann was named to the 2013 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List, a trophy awarded to the nation’s top male and female college soccer players.
Wiese said there are a lot of great players listed, but one’s presence on the list does not guarantee anything.
“Stevie (Neumann) certainly deserves to be on that,” Wiese said. “(He’s) a special talent. For my money, I wouldn’t trade him for anybody else in the country.”
During his career, Neumann has posted consistent numbers, scoring 10, 11 and 10 goals in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. A career-best 13 assists helped him post a career-high 33 points last season. Neumann’s consistency is because he refuses to settle on past accomplishments.
“I think his appetite for improving is what keeps him where he is, and it’s put him on that Hermann Trophy Watch List,” Wiese said. “He’s never content with ‘I’m good, and the team’s good.’ He always wants to be better. He wants to win championships, and be a big part of those championships.
“That’s why he’s going to be an incredible pro someday, and have a long pro career.”
This season, the Hoyas must replace four members of the most successful senior class in program history. The San Jose Earthquakes selected defender Tommy Muller 15th overall in the 2013 Major League Soccer SuperDraft in January. Midfielder Ian Christianson and defender Jimmy Nealis were second-round picks. The Los Angeles Galaxy drafted forward Andy Riemer sixth overall in the Supplemental Draft in January. The McLean, Va., native contributed nine goals in 2012.
Despite Riemer’s departure, Neumann said he feels no additional pressure to produce, citing teammate Brandon Allen’s emergence. As a freshman, the Old Bridge, N.J., product scored a team-high 16 goals.
“It’s always good having a freshman coming in last year and putting in 16 goals to take a little bit of the load off me,” Neumann said. “I’ve always seen myself as much of a playmaker as I am a goal scorer. I think I have a lot of weapons this year to provide for.”
Neumann cited freshman Alex Muyl, a freshman from New York City who trained with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, as a player who can help Georgetown replace some of the production offensively that the Hoyas lost due to graduation.
Wiese said a greater leadership role will fall on Neumann’s shoulders this year.
“As a senior, he’s the one that really carries a lot of the decision-making power,” Wiese said. “He embraces it. He wants it. Like all good players, is happy with the responsibility of being a captain and a leader on the field and to be the one to say ‘I’ll win or lose us this game.’ I’m fine with that.”
Neumann, a team captain for the second consecutive season, said his goal is to have the same sort of output to help his team on both ends. Neumann’s primary goal is to help the Hoyas return to — and win — the 2013 College Cup, held at PPL Park in Philadelphia.
According to Wiese, the team dictates who earns the captains’ roles and usually gets it right from the coaches’ point of view.
A “late-bloomer” out of Council Rock North High School, Neumann wanted to play for Georgetown.
“He was too small to play for anybody,” Wiese said. “We took a chance on him. Suddenly, he grew and has really blossomed into the player he is. It’s amazing. Sometimes you get lucky as a coach recruiting a kid. Stevie’s one of those really lucky stories from our point of view. He’s making us look really good.
“All the credit falls to him.”
The Hoyas’ 2013 season is underway — they’re 1-1-0 — but Neumann said his performance in the 2012 national semifinal is something that he’ll treasure for the rest of his life.
“It’s still a little surreal looking back on it,” Neumann said of his hat trick. “But it was a great experience for me and something that I’ll never forget.”