Family Ties Influence Neumann's Game
Nov. 7, 2013
Had Steve Neumann decided to move on and try his luck with professional soccer after being one of the catalysts on Georgetown's magical run to the 2012 National Championship game, it would have been hard to argue against the decision, even for the most loyal Hoya fans.
En route to finishing as the national finalist, Neumann almost piled up more awards and accolades in the offseason as he did goals during the season. It's funny what a hat-trick against a local rival in the national semifinal can do for a player.
He was named the College Cup Offensive Player of the Tournament as well as earning a spot on the all-tournament team. He finished as a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, earned various first and second team All-America honors and was even named as the Hoyas own MVP.
But for Neumann, his time at Georgetown was always going to be about more than just playing soccer and picking up individual awards.
After giving some thought to testing the Major League Soccer waters, Neumann decided to stick around for his senior campaign in order to earn his degree and build off of last season's momentum on the field.
"Getting that degree from Georgetown is something that you can't pass up and I thought that I could get even better as a player before turning to the professional ranks," Neumann said after one of his last practices ahead of a Senior Day showdown with Villanova on Nov. 8.
"I don't regret the decision at all and I'm having fun this year trying to make another run with my team."
To understand a bit more about Neumann, knowing where he gets most of his soccer advice is an important piece to the puzzle.
The New Hope (Pa.) native has always had immediate and unlimited access to one of the best resources around town - his dad.
Mark Neumann, a striker just like his son, played from 1982-85 at Lafayette College and is a member of the athletic Hall of Fame.
"My dad was a huge part of the reason why I got into soccer," Neumann said with a big grin.
"I think he still holds the goal scoring record there with 49 goals. Growing up I always would watch him play in his men's league and he would tell me stories about college and my grandpa would also tell me the stories."
Neumann's dad would go on to coach his club team for a few years and has continued to be involved in all matters but especially when soccer is the topic. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of their relationships is what his father didn't do.
"He was never the kind of dad that would push me further than I wanted to be pushed," said Neumann.
"Instead he just passed on his knowledge of the game. It's a testament to him that I still enjoy talking to him about the games that I play. He was really good at managing at being a dad but also giving feedback. I think that's something that has really helped me as a player."
While earning a degree from his "dream school" was obviously a major consideration Neumann also takes a lot of pride in the direction Georgetown soccer has taken since his class arrived in 2010.
The Hoyas are set to make their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four tries. It's a topic he'd much rather discuss than personal awards.
"It's something special for Georgetown soccer," Neumann said.
"Georgetown soccer has never seen this type of national hype and consideration until the last couple of years and it's been fun to be a part of that and a part of a program on the rise. I'm excited to keep watching even after I leave."
As a result of the Hoyas success, Georgetown had four players - Tommy Muller, Ian Christianson, Jimmy Nealis, and Andy Riemer - drafted by MLS clubs. Before that, the last time a Hoya was selected was 2007.
It's a fact that Neumann is very proud of.
"You saw three or four guys get drafted in MLS last year and I think I really benefited from that because week in and week out in practice we all made each other better," Neumann said.
"I think you see all these recruits coming in now who are on national teams because we have this professional environment now. We are building this program into a national powerhouse."
Now as his senior season winds down, Neumann is focused on making this last postseason count. While he admits that this year's team is different from last year's team, he feels as though those experiences will help. He knows that tournament soccer can come down to making that special play or stopping that special play.
Also, there is the Hoyas' unconventional secret weapon.
"We joke that we are the funniest team in the country," Neumann tried to admit with a straight face before easing into a laugh.
"There are some pranksters. I'm a prankster. I think it helps as a team. We all hang out outside of soccer and that's what I'll miss the most with this group."
What is no joking matter, however, is the Hoyas lack of a BIG EAST championship title. It's something that weighs heavy on Neumann's mind, especially after last season's tough loss.
"One of our main goals is to win the BIG EAST Championship because Georgetown has never done that," Neumann explained before getting into the specifics of last year's result.
"We were up 2-1 on Notre Dame with 30 seconds, maybe 20 seconds to go and they scored to tie it up. They ended up beating us in overtime. We want another chance to get back to PPL Park."
When asked if he was possibly saving another hat trick for the biggest stage, Neumann responded: "I can only hope that I'm saving it in my locker for another special game like the College Cup against Maryland. That would be special."
"We've put ourselves in a good spot and if we take care of business in the BIG EAST Championship we will be set up well for the NCAAs again."
Neumann will earn a bachelor's degree in marketing in December, giving him time focus on the MLS combines just after the new year.