One is a “cheese head” from Wisconsin. The other was born and raised in the West Indies.
So, what do Jason Holloway and Kali Hislop have in common?
They were both freshman starters for the GW men’s soccer team this season. Both had strong seasons and become leaders in their respective positions.
Despite a final regular season record of 5-12-2 and 4-5-2 in the Atlantic 10, GW ended its season on a high note, winning four of its last five games. The season-ending winning streak included consecutive victories over Xavier, St. Joseph’s and Temple.
While veteran players such as seniors Ben Hatton, Ben Ferry and Craig Jones helped the Colonials finish strong, young players such as Hislop and Holloway also were instrumental in GW’s late-season turnaround. Holloway was named the A-10 Rookie of the Week in the final week of the season for his goal and two assists in GW’s 4-3 overtime win over Temple.
Holloway established himself as a major offensive threat in the first game of the season against Howard University, scoring two goals at the striker-forward position. He had a scoring drought throughout the middle of the season.
“He’s got the physical attributes to be a very good college player,” GW head coach George Lidster said. “He’s just taken a while to adjust and refine his skills.”
Hislop was tough on defense throughout the season as the last man back – the sweeper.
“Kali’s a big strong lad,” Lidster said. “He’s got to adjust to the quickness of the college game, it’s taken him by surprise.”
Despite starting in their first years of collegiate soccer, both players are quite modest about their performances.
“The opportunities have been there, but I haven’t been able to finish as often as I would like,” said Holloway, who had five goals and 12 points this season.
The Colonials carried a total of eight freshmen on their roster, with five starting regularly. The freshman starters on the team included Michael Goldman at midfield and defense, Ted Tucker at defense and Nick Parypinski in goal. Freshmen Bucky Bennett, Gregg Friedman and Alfonso Herrera came off the bench for the young Colonials.
Holloway was a highly recruited all-state player out of Wisconsin. Born and raised in Milwaukee, he led his high school team to the state championship twice. Scouts from across the country – including St. John’s and Vanderbilt universities, the University of Wisconsin, Providence College and GW – came to watch him play.
“I really like the city atmosphere and the diversity,” Holloway said.
Hislop was born and raised in Diego Martin, Trinidad.
“I have been playing soccer for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I remember trying other sports as a child, but soccer was always where my heart lay.”
Hislop went to a soccer school from age six until he moved, along with his two brothers, to Newcastle, England, where he played soccer in some of the world’s best junior leagues.
Hislop came to GW welcoming the opportunity to develop as a player. Kali’s older brother, Shaka, who is now a goalkeeper for West Ham of the English Premier League, serves as a model of where dedication to the sport can lead.
“I believe that I can become a major force in soccer at whatever level I choose to participate,” Hislop said. “My aim is to become a professional soccer player and this can only be achieved one step at a time.”
What seems most impressive about these two freshmen is their maturity on and off the field. Although they have gone through a losing season, they understand that the team is young, and time is on their side.
“We know we have the talent necessary to win, and if we pull together anything is possible,” Hislop said.
Next season, the two freshmen expect more success, an appearance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and, perhaps, a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
-Rich Murphy contributed to this report.