The GW women’s soccer team will find itself in a familiar position with a different twist this weekend.
The Colonial women (12-5-2, 9-2 A-10) will be returning to the Atlantic 10 Tournament Friday, when they will play Xavier on the Musketeers’ home field. Between GW and the A-10 title once again stands Massachusetts, the team that has beaten the Colonial women in the conference tourney in each of the last four seasons.
The stakes this season are a lot higher, though, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament going to the A-10 champions.
GW lost to UMass 1-0 in a heartbreaking loss in the first round of last season’s A-10 Tournament, and was beaten 4-0 by the Minutewomen (15-4, 11-0 A-10) earlier this season.
“On any given day we can beat a team like UMass,” head coach Shannon Higgins-Cirovski said of the number one seed in the A-10 Tournament. “We gave up an early goal against them (in the 4-0 loss), and that really hurt us. I think we can play with them if we have a good day.”
But GW, the second seed, would not play UMass until the finals if each team wins its first-round game. UMass will face Dayton (16-3, 8-3 A-10), the fourth seed, Friday, while GW will take on third-seeded Xavier.
To beat Xavier (14-4, 9-2 A-10), Higgins-Cirovski said she feels her team must shut down sisters Amanda and Annette Gruber, two dangerous offensive players. The Colonial women did just that when they came from behind to defeat the Musketeers 2-1 two weeks ago at South Riding Field.
“Those two strikers are unbelievable,” Higgins-Cirovski said. “We don’t want to let them get too many opportunities in our game. We have to take on their backs up top, which is something we’ve been doing well recently.”
Coming into the tournament, GW has shut out its last three opponents and has outscored its last five opponents 15-2, including seven goals by GW’s all-time scoring leader, Chemar Smith. The streak of impressive offensive showings was capped by an impressive 6-0 victory over St. Joseph’s Sunday.
“We could have had that kind of victory against a lot of teams,” Higgins-Cirovski said. “It’s just a matter of whether our team shows up to play the way it’s capable of playing.”
While Higgins-Cirovski said she is proud of what her team has accomplished so far, she said she feels the season will be a success if her team puts forth its best effort this weekend.
“I define success by reaching your potential, and in some of our games we’ve shown our potential,” Higgins-Cirovski said. “But I would definitely be disappointed if we didn’t come out and play hard in the matches we have left.”