Men’s soccer team combats its youth

The young and inexperienced GW men’s soccer team has shown promise this fall.

The question is whether that promise will be fulfilled.

With head coach George Lidster back after a year hiatus and an impressive 3-1 win over NCAA Tournament qualifier Howard University earlier this season, the Colonials already have shown they can compete at a high level.

But the team has faltered since beating Howard. GW suffered a 6-2 blowout loss to nationally ranked Georgetown University and a pair of 2-0 defeats to George Mason and Old Dominion universities. Rookie mistakes kept the Colonials on the wrong side of the fine line between winning and losing.

“We’re starting five or six freshmen every match,” Lidster said. “We’re going to make a lot of mistakes. It’s a slow process.”

This year’s team will have to replace several key players from last season’s 6-11-1 team. Departures include midfielders Matt Ferry and Omar Sigtryggsson, defensemen Alex Guerreiro and Scott Zmrhal and goalie Jamie Hadzima.

Tri-captains Ben Hatton, Craig Jones and Ben Ferry bring much-needed veteran leadership to a young team. Of GW’s 25 players, 12 are freshmen and four are sophomores. The Colonials started five freshmen against ODU.

“All three of our captains are wonderful,” Lidster said. “They’re really fit and on top of their game and always willing to lend an ear to the younger players.”

Ben Ferry’s return to this year’s team is in doubt after Wednesday’s match against George Mason. He is expected to undergo knee surgery on what was originally thought to be a slight hyperextension suffered in the preseason. The timetable for Ben Ferry’s return, who led the nation in assists in 1997 with 24, has not yet been set.

Several freshmen have been filling crucial starting roles for GW, including forward Jason Holloway, defenseman Kali Hislop and goalkeeper Nick Parypinski. Holloway scored three goals in his first two collegiate games for a GW offense that has scored just five goals in four matches.

“All the new players have a great attitude,” Hatton said. “We’ve got a good core of players here.”

“They’re very enthusiastic and willing to learn,” Lidster said. “Jason Holloway is adapting well to this level. Hislop is playing the role of a junior or senior on defense and Nick Parypinski is doing well in goal.”

The Colonials are an unfinished product, with learning taking precedence over winning this early in the season. This fall’s Atlantic 10 coaches’ poll predicted GW to finish seventh of the 12 teams, but Lidster is more optimistic.

“We’re going to take our knocks, but by the time the A-10s come around, hopefully we’ll have eliminated our mistakes,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a positive season.”

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