The grey clouds that rolled over the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex Saturday afternoon accurately represented the dismal tone of the men’s soccer match against Rider University of New Jersey. After a heartbreaking loss to Towson on Sept. 21, the Colonials were determined to get back on track with a victory over the winless Broncs. GW was unable to add to the win column, however, as the game ended in a 2-2 tie after two overtimes.
“We were very disappointed,” senior co-captain Matt Miller said. “It was a game we should have won. They were a very beatable team. We had I don’t know how many opportunities that we didn’t finish. It’s just very frustrating.”
The game started off slowly, with neither team able to control the ball. After 13 minutes of play, Rider took advantage of a hole on the right side of the field near the Colonials’ goal as senior Sandro DeCristofaro dribbled past the GW goalkeeper, senior Derek Biss, before launching a shot that eluded sophomore Greg McKay, the Colonials’ deepest defender. The goal marked the Broncs’ first of their season.
Play remained steady until the 30th minute, when Rider sophomore Trevor Springer fouled sophomore Joachim Walker in front of the Broncs’ goal. The resulting penalty kick, taken by senior co-captain Ben Mortimer, knotted the score at 1-1.
Three minutes later, sophomore Abimbola Pedro had a small break and a clear shot deep in Rider territory, however his attempt went just right of the goal. The ball remained on this half of the field until, with 11 minutes remaining, sophomore Thomas Stuber received a pass from senior co-captain Trevor Martin that Stuber was able to put into the right side of the net. The goal, which was assisted by senior Steve Brown, was Stuber’s first of his career.
The Colonials had another scoring opportunity with three minutes left in the first half, when Martin quickly passed to Walker, whose kick sent the ball flying just over the top of the net. The teams continued to battle for possession for the remainder of the half.
GW appeared to be in control of the game for much of the second half. The team was able to run the clock until the 72nd minute, when senior Jon Allen was tripped up deep in Colonial territory, leaving the player he was covering, sophomore Michael Colozzi, available to make an open pass to junior Donnie Giovacchini, a former Colonial. He was able to place the ball into the net from the left side in his first return to Mount Vernon since departing two years ago. It was also his first collegiate goal.
After the tying goal, the Broncs took control of the ball and didn’t let it go until the end of regulation. The Colonials defense had trouble against Rider’s aggressive play, and a feeling of desperation seemed to settle over the team during the five-minute break before sudden-death overtime began.
“(There was) a lack of communication, lack of ability to finish,” Miller said. “If we had scored half the goals we should have, we would have won 10-1. We didn’t score in the second half, and we got frustrated. You make a stupid mistake, a bad mistake, and you aren’t able to finish, then that’s it, it’s done.”
The Colonials played the two 10-minute overtime periods as if this were true, as the offense sent the ball all over the field with the defense struggling to remove it from GW territory.
“We made silly mistakes in the back that cost us a chance to win the game. In games like this, we have to finish the game early and lock them up, not have those silly goals,” junior Arturo Pedroso said.
With eight minutes remaining in the game, Pedro launched what appeared would be the winning goal, but the shot rolled inches from the left goal post. The Colonials matched the collective groan heard from the 392-person audience, as their disappointment in not being able to score more than two goals, despite a 23-10 shot advantage, became obvious.
With 15 seconds left in the game, the team pulled Biss from goal, as in the game against Towson, but unlike in the previous game, where Biss nearly scored, it had no impact as time ran out.
The Colonials now go on the road, playing at Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa., Wednesday before returning to the Vern to play Virginia Tech next Saturday.