The 1999 GW men’s soccer team could be summed up in one word – youth.
All but seven members of the 23 player squad are freshmen and sophomores.
“This year is going to be a learning process for all the new players,” head coach George Lidster said. “We’ve tried to assimilate them as quickly as we can, but this year has been somewhat of a challenge.”
One of those challenges to the learning process has been the frequent injuries suffered by freshmen. Freshman midfielder Ricardo Forno twisted his ankle last week and is out, while freshman midfielder/defenseman Bjarni Thrastarson and forward Matthew Osborne are also out with injuries.
Osborne’s case is particularly frustrating. After injuring himself in the preseason, he came back and started two weeks ago – only to reinjure himself.
Compounding the Colonials’ problems on the injury front is senior midfielder Jon Legasse’s skateboarding accident last week.
“Legasse was a stabilizing force both on and off the field,” Lidster said. “His personality and experience will both be sorely missed. Our team will now look to Martin (Williams), Michael (Jelencovich), and Evan (Nierman) for guidance.”
Evan Nierman, who was tied for the team lead in goals last year and had the second highest point total, and Marty Williams are the senior co-captains on the team. Michael Jelencovich, who had 54 saves last year with a .710 save percentage, is the team’s senior goalkeeper.
Sophomore Jason Holloway, who last year led the team in points and goals, has picked up where he left off, leading the team in goals again. His offensive output has been a bright spot for the Colonials.
He is joined by a strong core of sophomore defenders, including Gregg Friedman, Michael Goldman, Bucky Bennett, and Kali Hislop. Goldman and Friedman carved out niches for themselves in the strong finish the team had last year, when they won four out of their last five matches. Hislop, who started all 19 matches for GW last year, is solid on defense.
As for the freshmen, despite the injuries and inexperience, they have made their mark this year. Lidster said that the majority of new freshmen this year have seen a considerable amount of playing time, especially forwards Kirk Lewis and Andre Cardim.
Lidster stressed the importance of the Atlantic 10 season, which opened Sunday at home against Virginia Tech. Before Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Hokies, Lidster emphasized that it was key to play hard against Tech – which was picked by the A-10 coaches in the preseason to finish third in the conference.
“This is our first home game of the year, and it’s a big deal,” Lidster said. “Tech lost last week to Virginia, the national champion, in a tight match, 2-1. They’re going to come in angry, but hopefully we’ll play up to our strengths and come out on top.”
The Colonials did give the Hokies another tight match, but now saddled with a five-game losing streak (the GW all-time men’s record is six), they have 10 more games to prove that 1-5-1 is an aberration. But if that doesn’t happen, there will be a next year for most of these Colonials.