Season rides on last game

Two vital wins last weekend put the GW men’s soccer team in position to qualify for the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but to gain one of the bracket’s six spots, the Colonials need to either tie or beat the undefeated Richmond Spiders on Saturday or get help from Rhode Island.

Heading into the regular season finale, GW (7-10-1, 5-4-1 A-10) is tied for fifth place in the conference with Massachusetts (11-6-1, 5-4-1 A-10) and Rhode Island (9-9-1, 5-4-1 A-10), and only two of the three can qualify. Earlier in the season, GW beat Rhode Island but lost to Massachusetts, and on Friday, those two schools will play each other. If Rhode Island wins, the Colonials are guaranteed a spot in the tournament and Saturday’s game does not matter. If the Minutemen win, GW will need a win or a tie against the Spiders in Richmond.

The situation is reminiscent of last year, when the Colonials also had to beat Richmond in their final regular season game to make the A-10 Tournament. GW won that game, 2-0, and went on to win the A-10 Title. But this year’s Richmond team has been dominant all season. GW will face one of the toughest defenses in the conference; it shut out six A-10 opponents and has allowed only five goals all year.

Despite those numbers, GW senior Trent Wilee said the Colonials can get the tie or victory if needed.

“I think when we all play to our ability, we can beat any team in the league,” he said. “We all know how we need to play. We can look back on last weekend and see what we did well. There’s room for improvement, but if we play like that, we’ll go through.”

After starting the season 2-6 in non-conference play, the Colonials have slowly improved throughout their conference schedule. Last weekend, GW beat Fordham 2-1 in overtime Friday and La Salle 4-1 Sunday to put themselves in contention. Now, they said, they don’t want to waste what has been a remarkable turnaround.

“The seniors don’t want to lose that way,” sophomore Steve Brown said. “And no one else wants to have it come down to the wire and lose. We are just going to go into it knowing that a win gets us in.”

Wilee agreed, saying he is looking forward to Saturday’s game.

“It’s do or die,” he said. “We played this weekend like we’ve been trying to play, so we know what we need to do. We struggled this year, and it all comes down to this game. We’ll all be up for it.”

The Colonials take the field in Richmond, Va., at 7 p.m. Saturday. Rhode Island and Massachusetts square off at 1 p.m. in Kingston, R.I., Friday.

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