The GW men’s soccer team went to Ohio this weekend and came back with an even split against two tough Atlantic 10 opponents, beating Xavier Sunday, 2-0, after getting shut out by the same score Friday against nationally-ranked Dayton.
“We’ve now played three teams in the (A-10) who are in the Top 25 in the past week,” junior Matt Miller said, referring to Massachusetts (13th in the USA Today/NCAA poll), Duquesne (22nd) and Dayton (8th). “The A-10 has really improved over the past year. Three nationally ranked teams in the A-10 is unheard of. We’re now through the tough part of our schedule and we should now really start to rally for some victories.”
The Colonials (3-11-1, 2-4 A-10) came out strong against Xavier (5-9, 3-3 A-10), the only unranked A-10 opponent they played in the past week and a half. With GW on the attack in the 19th minute, the Musketeer’s goalkeeper tackled senior Arnar Johannsson after he eluded two Musketeers defenders. Johannsson was awarded a penalty kick, which he put away in the lower right-hand corner of the net to give the Colonials a 1-0 lead.
Johannsson scored the only other goal of the day for GW in the 83rd minute, when freshman Joseph Siegel pushed the ball to the top of the penalty box and then led Johannsson on the left-hand side. After receiving the pass, Johannsson overpowered the Xavier goalie with a shot through his hands to give GW a 2-0 lead and seal the game.
Sophomore goalkeeper Derek Biss also played well, coming up with eight saves in the shutout. Biss made several key plays toward the end of the match as the Musketeers attempted six corner kicks in the final five minutes.
Despite the fact that Biss turned away 21 of Dayton’s 23 shots on Friday night, the Flyers extended their seven-game winning streak. Dayton (9-1-2, 4-0-1 A-10) scored a goal in each half, while silencing GW’s attack. The Colonials had 11 shots fired but could never break through against the defending Atlantic 10 division champions.
Miller, who started his first two games of the season on the road trip, said the huge crowds at both games exhilarated him. He also said he thought similar support by GW fans would be a huge lift to the team when it plays at the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex.
“I had more fun (this weekend) than I have had playing soccer this year,” Miller said. “These schools have diehard fans, and they make you want to compete harder. It was great.”
After the win over Xavier, Miller said he thinks the Colonials have begun to hit their stride.
“We’re really close,” he said,.”We’re one step off, whether it be that key goal or that good run. We’re just one half a step off from being where we want to be. We’re playing our most competitive soccer now.”
The Colonials head back on the road to face St. Joseph’s on Friday in Philadelphia, where the Colonials will try to stretch Sunday’s victory into a winning streak.