The GW men’s soccer team clinched the sixth and final seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament Saturday after battling through two overtimes to tie the Richmond Spiders, 1-1.
The Colonials put themselves in good position to make the tournament after last weekend’s wins against LaSalle and Fordham. But when Rhode Island beat Massachusetts Friday, GW still needed a tie or a win against Richmond (10-4-5, 7-0-4 A-10) to extend its season.
Junior Matt Miller said the added pressure made the win more rewarding.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “When we did this last year, it was great. This year, just squeezing it in at the end was even better. This is what you want, to have the last game of the season mean something.”
In the first half Saturday, the Colonials took five shots, while the Spiders had seven. But nobody was able to beat either goalkeeper.
Sophomore Frank Ambrosio broke the stalemate in the 79th minute, when he capitalized on a rebound to beat Richmond goalie Mike Nwaneri. But the Spiders came back five minutes later when Colin Vint scored on GW’s Derek Biss.
After ending regulation tied, the teams played through two ten-minute overtimes that included two shots off the post from Richmond. But after 110 minutes, the game ended in a tie.
“I think we just believed in ourselves,” senior Arnar Johannsson said. “We knew what we could do. It was a little luck, but we had our chances, too. I didn’t think we were going to lose.”
After last season’s conference championship, Johannsson said his team entered this year underestimating its competition. It took a 1-6 non-conference start to make them play to their ability.
“This year, we thought we could just win, but we didn’t,” he said. “Once we figured that out, we did start to win. After our turnaround, we realized that as long as we give it all we have, we can do it.”
Last week, GW was tied with Massachusetts and Rhode Island for fifth place in the conference, but only two teams could make the tournament. Now the Colonials finish with 17 points to edge Massachusetts by one.
“It’s amazing to see how we were able to bounce back, when odds were against us,” Miller said. “We knew what we needed to do, and we did it. Everyone did their part to help.”
Johannsson said in the end, it doesn’t matter that the Colonials finished with an overall losing record.
“At the end of the day, we’re in the playoffs,” he said. “And if you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen.”
This was the second year in a row that the Colonials played Richmond in their last game of the season with a chance to make the conference tournament. Last year, they beat the Spiders 2-0 to grab the final seed and ended up winning the A-10 Tournament. They will defend that title when they return to Richmond’s home field to play No. 3 seed Temple in the first round Thursday.