HOOVER, Ala. - Before Friday's game, Georgetown had never beaten Maryland in a men's soccer game that counted in the win-loss ledger.
The Hoyas picked a doozy of a time to end a streak that began in 1952 and had reached 28 in row after the teams last played in 2009. And the streak-busting win, which came in the Men's Soccer College Cup semifinals at Regions Park, was a riveting game, as the teams battled to a 4-4 tie through two overtime periods before Georgetown advanced to Sunday's national championship game by winning 4-3 on penalty kicks.
"In today's game, you see the absolute beauty of this game and you see the cruelty," said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski. "I know many coaches have said that, but that's the absolute truth. Today was an incredibly beautiful game. This was a game that people will be talking about 20-30 years from now as one of the greatest College Cup games ever. I've been around for 25-plus years and never seen anything close to it."
The heroes were plentiful for Georgetown, including junior forward Steve Neumann, who contributed the first College Cup Final Four hat trick since 1993. But it was Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Gomez, who made saves on the final two penalty kicks, who made the big plays at the end.
After two scoreless, 10-minute overtime periods, Maryland took a 3-2 lead after the first three rounds of penalty kicks. But the Hoyas closed with successful kicks by Andy Riemer and Jimmy Nealis, and Gomez stopped kicks by Taylor Kemp and Helge Leikvang to begin a wild celebration.
"Going into this one, Coach (Brian) Gill told me they were looking to see when I would move early," Gomez said. "Today, I just saw it until they hit it. On the last one, I just had a hunch to go there and it ended up working out."
Georgetown (20-3-2) had more quality scoring opportunities early in the game, with Brandon Allen and Tyler Rudy nearly scoring in the first eight minutes. Eventually, the opportunities turned into goals but not before Maryland (20-2-2) struck first.
The Terrapins' opening goal came at the 34-minute mark when Dakota Edwards directed a pass to Patrick Mullins, who headed the ball to Schillo Tshuma just outside the goal mouth. Tshuma headed the ball past Gomez to get Maryland on the board first.
That lead held up until Neumann took over with just under 13 minutes left in the half. Neumann's first goal of the game came at the 12:48 mark when he gathered in a pass from Ian Christianson, and blasted a shot that beat Keith Cardona in the left corner.
Ninety-one seconds later, Neumann rocketed a shot from about 22 yards away that bounced off the left post and settled into the goal for a 2-1 Georgetown lead. Both teams ended the first half with six shots, but Georgetown had the better opportunities.
"Stevie is able to do this stuff," said Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese. "He can create goals out of nothing. He's an instinctual scorer and he's about as complete a player as I've coached in terms of being able to set guys up."
Georgetown's lead grew to 3-1 less than four minutes into the second half on a goal that was a mixture of a critical blunder by Cardona and hustle by Georgetown's Riemer. Cardona was trying to clear the ball but failed when Riemer hustled back to get his left leg on the clearing attempt and the ball caromed into the goal.
Maryland answered on Tshuma's second goal of the game with just over 31 minutes left in regulation, but Georgetown had a quick answer. The Hoyas' final goal in regulation play began with Riemer breaking away from a defender, racing down the left side and directing a crisp pass to Neumann, who directed the ball into the goal.
But Maryland wouldn't go away. The Terrapins used goals by Mullins and Christiano Francois in the final 17 minutes to force the overtime period.
"Once you get to penalty kicks, it's gutting for whoever loses it," said Wiese. "What this team has shown through the year is we do whatever needs to be done to get the result. When we were down a goal, it was more of the same in how we responded to it."