For the first time, the GW men’s soccer team will host the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which will be held Thursday through Sunday at the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex. Admission is free for spectators.
After the Colonials won only one of their first 12 games, a spot in the tourney looked unlikely until the team caught fire late in the season, winning six games in a row.
The streak helped GW earn the fourth seed in the league. The Colonials (7-8-3, 6-3-2 A-10) will face No. 5 Rhode Island (12-7-1, 6-4-1 A-10) Thursday at 1 p.m. in the second quarterfinal match. The two teams tied 1-1 in their only regular season meeting Oct. 8.
If the Colonials can get by the Rams, they will face either No. 2 Dayton (8-3-0, 11-6-1 A-10) or top seed Duquesne (9-2-0, 13-6-0 A-10) in the semifinals on Friday at either 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. The final will be held Sunday at 1 p.m.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for all year,” senior co-captain Matt Miller said. “Everyone who was on the team last year has been waiting for it since the whistle blew at the end of last year. Now that we’re on this awesome winning streak, everyone has so much confidence.”
Senior captain Trent Wilee added that playing in front of Colonials fans will make a huge difference.
“We’re on a roll, and we’re playing with passion and desire,” he said. “It helps to have fans behind you leading you on. Nothing beats the roar of the crowd when the ball goes into the back of the net.”
The University has made a much bigger commitment to soccer in the past four years than it had in the past, Wilee said. When he first came to GW as a freshman in 2000, the team did not even have a home field.
The Colonials had to commute to Virginia to play because the MVC was not yet completed. He gave the University credit for making progress – the complex opened successfully in 2001.
“This shows how far we’ve come and how competitive GW has become,” he said. “They won’t even hold the tournament in some other places. This shows how well we’ve done in the past few years.”
To prepare for the five visiting teams and expected increase in fans, the MVC staff installed more spectator seats and painted a new GW logo on the field. Mike Gill, MVC Operations Supervisor, said he hopes students will come out to cheer on the Colonials.
“I’m excited to have it here,” he said. “It showcases our school more. Especially since we’re playing so well, it’s really exciting right now.”
Gill said that typically the most loyal fans are other athletes, but that he hoped other students would take the opportunity to show their support.
Senior lacrosse player Erin Berry said the soccer team’s success is inspiring.
“Knowing the team you support is a quality team always makes the games more fun,” she said. “I’d go see them if they were winning or losing. But this winning streak will definitely draw a bigger crowd this weekend.”
But for students who can’t make it to the field, WRGW, the University’s student radio station, will be broadcasting live from the game. Junior Anthony Moniello, the station’s assistant sports director, encouraged students to go and support the team.
“It’s just incredible to have the opportunity to show team support by having the tourney at home,” he said. “The only way to have this again is to support them. They have worked so hard. It’s the feel-good story of the year.”
2004 ATLANTIC 10 MEN’S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
Thursday, Nov. 11
Game 1 11 a.m.: No. 3 Temple vs. No. 6 La Salle
Game 2 1 p.m.: No. 4 GW vs. No. 5 Rhode Island
Friday, Nov. 12
Game 3 11 a.m.: No. 1 Duquesne vs. lowest seed
Game 4 1 p.m.: No. 2 Dayton vs. highest remaining seed
Sunday, Nov. 14: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4