For the second straight season, the GW men’s soccer team squeezed its way into the Atlantic 10 Tournament in the last week of conference play. And just like last year, the Colonials now hope to make a run for the A-10 Title.
GW (7-10-2, 5-4-1) went 2-0-1 versus its last three A-10 opponents to capture the sixth and final seed this season, including a 1-1 tie in the finale against Richmond, who had not lost in conference all year and had only allowed five conference goals. That game followed wins over Fordham and La Salle the previous weekend.
Last season, the Colonials also played Richmond in their final game but needed a win then and got it, 2-0. After securing the fourth and final seed with that win (the tournament was expanded to six teams this year), GW shocked No. 1 seed Massachusetts 4-3 before beating Duquesne, 3-2, to take the conference title.
Junior forward Matt Miller said this year’s team, which will face No. 3 seed Temple Thursday night at Richmond in the first round, has also come together at the right time.
“It took a few things within the team to realize what we needed to do to turn this ship around,” he said. “We changed offensive schemes and really picked up the intensity. We kind of just realized that we are as good as, if not better than, every team we play.”
After last year’s run through the Atlantic 10 Tournament, GW had high hopes for this season, even after losing key seniors. But the Colonials got off to a shaky 1-6 non-conference start and a 2-3 start in the A-10.
“This year, it was such a stressful season,” Miller said. “We just came out so flat, and everyone was telling us we weren’t as good as last year and that we weren’t going to pull it together this year.”
If the Colonials win Thursday night, they will advance to the semifinals for a re-match against No. 1 Richmond, which has a bye in the first round. No. 4 Dayton plays No. 5 Rhode Island in the other first-round match-up, the winner of which will play No. 2 Duquesne in the semis.
Miller said he thinks history can repeat itself for GW.
“We’re a team that enjoys playing under pressure because we’ve been doing it for two years now,” he said. “The way (head coach George Lidster) put it is that our last four games were all A-10 championship games. If we lost, we were gone. Our mindset stays the same for the tournament.”