HOOVER, Ala. — Indiana’s slogan is the “Quest for 8,” a nod to the Hoosiers’ dominant men’s soccer history while eying an eighth national title. Georgetown’s only slogan all season was “Red Bull” – as in reach Red Bull Arena for the Big East championships.
“They never once talked of getting to Hoover,” Georgetown coach Brian Wiese said.
Yet here are the Hoyas playing on the final Sunday of the year. Georgetown, which wasn’t even fully funded in soccer when Indiana last won a national championship in 2004, is one win away from completing a magical season in style.
First thing’s first, though. The soccer community was still buzzing a day after Georgetown’s classic penalty-kick shootout victory over Maryland in a semifinal game that produced eight goals in regulation.
“The challenge for our guys is letting go and the best we can forgetting playing probably one of the most exciting college soccer games you can be part of, and shifting gears into total preparations for Indiana,” Wiese said.
Based on the draw, third-seeded Georgetown would be the favorite over Indiana, which is the first 16 seed to reach the title game since the NCAA expanded the seeding in 2003. But the programs’ pedigrees couldn’t be more different.
Georgetown has made the NCAA Tournament only four times and never got deeper than the round of 16 until this season. Indiana is making its 14th NCAA championship game appearance, breaking a tie with Saint Louis for the most ever.
“Coming to Indiana, it’s been in our heads that we want to get to this final four and win a national championship,” Indiana forward Eriq Zavaleta said. “Any player that steps foot on the field at the beginning of the year, that’s their goal in mind.”
The Hoyas relish a loose attitude. While Indiana coach Todd Yeagley matter-of-factly answered questions about his program, Wiese’s players got asked what it’s like to have Johnny Carson as their coach.
“We joke that we claim to be the funniest team in the country, often in the back of the bus when we’re laughing with each other,” Georgetown forward Andy Riemer said. “But additionally, we have a professional environment every time we train and go out on that field. I think that allows coach Wiese to not be the rah-rah type.”
Before the season, no one could have imagined Georgetown being in this position.
“Nobody really thought we were good, but we knew were good,” Hoyas defender Tommy Muller said. “And it was kind of every game proving that to ourselves and building on that which is why we are here now.”
Added Riemer: “We have a confidence and sort of a swagger about us. If we didn’t talk in the preseason that we were going to be here, we knew that we were going to be here.”
There tends to be drama when Georgetown plays. Nineteen of the Hoyas’ 25 games have been decided by one goal or penalty kicks.
“I have a beef with these guys in that they seem to only score as many goals as they need to,” Wiese said. “It’s never we put 4 in and we win 4-0. It’s we put 4 in because the other team scores 4 so we have to do the same.”