For the third year in a row, the GW men’s soccer team has kept its fans on their toes until the final weekend of regular season play. In the past two years, the Colonials started off each season with a string of losses, digging themselves into a hole so deep that they were forced beat the top teams in the league for a bid to the tournament.
The Colonials have finished this year strong, but unlike last season, when they missed the Atlantic 10 Tournament, GW has a good chance to gain a spot in the tourney.
After a mid-season 10-game winless streak, the Colonials (6-8-3, 5-3-2 A-10) are in fourth place in the A-10. They are in strong contention for a spot in the tournament and could secure a berth with a win or tie in Saturday’s season finale at Richmond.
Although Richmond is in 10th place in the conference and has a very young squad, senior captain Matt Miller said that does not mean the game will be easy.
“They are always tough,” he said. “No matter what their record is, it won’t be easy.”
If the Colonials win or tie on Saturday, they are guaranteed a spot in the A-10 Tournament, which will begin Nov. 11 at GW’s Mount Vernon Athletic Complex. If they lose, and either Rhode Island or La Salle does not win their final game over the weekend, GW still goes on.
There is only one scenario in which the Colonials would not go to the tournament. If they lose to Richmond, and both URI and La Salle win, GW’s season is over. Since the Colonials lost to both teams earlier this year, if there is a head-to-head match-up, the others would have an advantage.
The Colonials have come a long way over the past few months, Miller said. When they began practicing in August, a lot of outsiders called this a rebuilding year. Not only had they lost their leading scorer, but they also had 13 freshmen and just two seniors.
But Miller said he believed his team had the potential to succeed from the beginning.
“We have done it in past,” he said. “When it seems like we’re going to be out of it, is when we step up and prove that we can do it.”
After an early victory against Howard University in the D.C. Cup, the Colonials had trouble notching another win. Of the next 10 games they played, they lost seven and tied three. And as close as the Colonials came to beating some of those competitors, they suffered through one disappointment after another.
But the Colonials’ luck changed two weeks ago in upstate New York, when they beat St. Bonaventure 3-1. Since then, they have won five conference games to put themselves in contention for a tourney berth.
Along the way, several factors helped the team turn around. Junior midfielder Trevor Martin and sophomore defender Jeremiah Burke both returned from the injured list and made immediate contributions. Martin scored a goal in one of his first games back, and Burke was once again an integral part of the defense.
“It’s been amazing to see how the team has bounced back from a bad start,” Miller said. “Most give up. When it came down to crunch time, everyone stepped up and did what had to be done.”