The GW men’s soccer team got off to a rough start this season, losing both games of the D.C. Cup at Georgetown last weekend. The Colonials dropped a closely contested 2-1 match to Howard Sunday after falling 3-0 to American Friday.
GW Head Coach George Lidster said his team is struggling a bit with the loss of key veterans from the 2002 squad that won the Atlantic 10 Championship and gained a berth in the NCAA Tournament .
“We miss Matt Osborne from last year and we’re a little apprehensive out there now,” Lidster said after Sunday’s game. “Arnar (Johannsson) hasn’t trained very much and it shows. His touch is a little off. Nobody as yet has picked up the mantle for us.”
Sunday’s loss to Howard was an improvement after Friday’s shutout loss to American. GW produced many scoring chances, out-shooting Howard 20-9, but only netted one goal. Junior forward Fabio Andrade evaded the Howard goalkeeper in the 21st minute to put GW on the board.
“Today was a big improvement from Friday,” Lidster said. “I think we played with emotion and passion. We created a lot of chances we just didn’t put those chances in.”
The game’s key sequence came in the 61st minute with the score knotted at one goal apiece.
While Howard was on the attack in the GW zone, the play appeared to be whistled dead by the referee. It is unclear whether the whistle was actually blown, as there was a field hockey game being played on an adjacent field, but many GW players slowed down to see a call that was never made. But Howard played on, as forward Nasir Wade fired a shot into the left corner of the goal to give the Bison the deciding 2-1 advantage.
“There was a game being played behind and we heard a whistle,” Lidster said. “Our players stopped and it was slow motion after that.”
Andrade, however, did not use the phantom whistle as an excuse for GW letting up the goal.
“Everyone on the team stopped,” he said. “We thought the refs were going to call a handball, but you can never stop playing when a ball is in the box.”
GW came close to tying the game a handful of times late in the second half but could not quite break through. One of those chances was a spectacular shot off the foot of Jeremiah Burke, who attempted a high-flying bicycle kick late in the second half but could not convert.
The Colonials did not come as close Friday versus the Eagles, who beat the buff and blue for the second consecutive game after ending GW’s season in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
American jumped on the Colonials early, scoring three first half goals and cruising to an easy 3-0 victory.
GW’s closest scoring chance came in the 18th minute, when Andrade’s shot sailed just wide of the goal.
Lidster emphasized that the Colonials will become a much better team if they can learn to capitalize on offensive chances, especially late in games.
His players said they agree.
“We need to work on finishing the final pass,” Andrade said. “We know what we’re lacking. We can use this as motivation, because we can’t have a losing season.”