Neumann brothers to duke it out at Rhodes Field
Penn freshman Alec Neumann to face his brother, senior Steve Neumann, in Thursday's match against Georgetown
September 18, 2013, 5:28 pm · Updated September 18, 2013, 10:19 pm·
Meredith Stern | DP
Philadelphia has always been known as “The City of Brotherly Love,” but this timeless moniker seems especially appropriate this week.
The Penn men’s soccer team is ready to take on Georgetown this Thursday night and the Hoyas (4-2), ranked 19th in the nation, should prove to be a tough matchup for the Quakers (2-2), but one of the Red and Blue may have an even tougher matchup.
That player is Alec Neumann, a freshman forward, who will be playing against his brother, Georgetown senior forward Steve Neumann. A matchup of any two brothers on the pitch is sure to be intriguing.
But Steve isn’t just any athlete.
Last year, he led his team to a deep run in the NCAA tournament, setting Georgetown season records for goals and assists while earning second team All-American honors in the process. This year, the senior captain has been consistently ranked amongst the top players in the nation.
“[Steve] can beat you in a variety of different ways, so we’re going to have to be keenly aware of where he is at all times Thursday night,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller said.
Steve is the leader of a Georgetown attack that will be sure to present some major problems to the Quakers, who, despite spirited play and promising signs, were unable to come out of their California road trip with a win.
But that is only one side of the story, because Alec Neumann isn’t your garden variety athlete either.
Despite being only a freshman, Alec has started all four games this year and gotten off to a productive start, tallying two goals and an assist and producing more than his fair share of scoring chances. His play has quickly earned him the respect of the more experienced leaders of the team.
“(Alec) came in, worked hard … and was an impact player from day one. So he has definitely fit in very well,” Penn senior captain Stephen Baker said.
It suffices to say that he has learned from the best.
“I would go to almost all of his games,” Alec said of his brother Steve.
Alec and Steve have watched each other grow up as soccer players. They played on the same high school team.
However, Thursday will mark a first for the Neumann brothers as they play against each other.
“It’ll be fun. It’s our first time playing against each other,” Alec said. “It will actually be good to be on the field against him.”
Thursday night will also be the first game of the season played at Rhodes Field, and Alec will also have to contend with a playing atmosphere unlike anything he has ever dealt with.
“I think every family member within driving distance is coming,” Alec remarked with a smile.
Living up to the legacy built by a senior captain and projected first team All-American is a tall task for anybody, let alone a freshman starting only his fifth career college game. But Alec Neumann is not content to be overshadowed by his brother.
“He’s a really good player,” Alec said. “I’m really just trying to make my own path here.”
In order to keep up with the high-powered Georgetown attack, the Quakers will have to match the Hoyas punch for punch. That means that Alec, and the rest of the offense, will be relied on heavily to create multiple scoring chances throughout the match.
It is a lot to ask of a team coming off of back-to-back, heartbreaking losses, but it is not impossible. Penn showed real promise against both Cal Poly and UCSB, but lost both games due to small mistakes at the end.
So imagine this. The Quakers are up by one with only a few minutes left. Steve Neumann makes a run up the sideline, and Alec is in striking range for a slide tackle. So what’s he thinking?
“Take him out.”
Brotherly love indeed.