The GW men’s soccer team escaped a loss in its first game of the season against visiting University of Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday when senior defender Kirk Lewis sent the ball into the top left corner of the net to tie the exhibition game at one apiece.
Head coach George Lidster said he was pleased his team finally got to face an opponent rather than scrimmaging themselves. He said playing UMBC, fresh off a five-game tour of Scotland, was a good way to begin.
Lidster said he uses exhibition games to give players match experience, especially freshmen. He started three rookies Saturday – defender Ben Mortimer, midfielder Steve Brown and forward Frank Ambrosio – and subbed in four more.
“It’s important for them to get a feel of Division I play,” Lidster said. “It’s a lot different from high school.”
Though pleased to get some match time in before his team’s first regular season game in the second annual D.C. Classic next Friday, Lidster was not happy with his team’s aggressiveness and control.
UMBC dominated the pace of the first half and won out more of the 50-50 balls, an aspect of the game that Lidster said his team must improve before the next game. Midway through the first half, UMBC scored the match’s first goal when George Bakoulas put a one-timer past GW goalkeeper Eric Lund.
“We needed to be much more aggressive in the first half, but we haven’t been in a match situation yet,” Lidster said. “We don’t expect to hit our full rhythm until three or four games into the season.”
The Colonials seemed to find more of a rhythm in the second half, when Lidster said they did a better job of winning free balls. They also turned up the offensive pressure, launching eight shots on goal before Lewis’ blast tied it in the 84th minute.
Senior forward Matthew Osborne, last season’s second leading scorer with 10 goals and five assists, dominated much of the offense, taking seven shots – three more than any other player in the game.
Lidster said Osborne is not the only offensive option though, especially with the talent of junior forwards Fabio Andrade and Arnar Johannsson, both of whom did not play because of injuries. Johannsson was the third leading scorer last season behind Osborne.
Lund, a junior, and freshman Derek Bliss split time in goal. Lund made five saves of UMBC’s six shots on goal, while Bliss saved the only shot UMBC took on him.
Lidster said he wants to improve in every aspect of the game before the D.C. Classic, especially balance and movement off the ball.
-Brian Costa contributed to this article