The last time the GW men’s soccer team faced an opponent from the Atlantic Coast Conference, it was one of the finest moments in program history. The Colonials defeated the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. This Saturday, the Colonials will have another opportunity to tackle an ACC team, when they face Virginia Tech at the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex.
The Hokies stand at 2-3-2 after a victory at home Tuesday against Davidson College of North Carolina.
“Their record is very misleading,” coach George Lidster said. “Virginia Tech has played some of the best teams in the country. They’ve really played top-20 teams. They’re regarded as a potential top-20 team. They’re in a very good conference. It’s going to be our hardest game of the season thus far.”
Tech opened its season with a 2-1 victory over Towson, which beat GW Sept. 21. The Tigers are the only common opponent the Colonials and Hokies share all year.
Before playing Davidson, Virginia Tech faced three ACC opponents: then-No. 19 Boston College, No. 9 Duke and No. 14 Wake Forest. The games ended in two ties and a loss, respectively. They’ve also lost to James Madison and Tulsa and tied Penn State.
“Virginia Tech plays at a high level,” said senior Derek Biss, the Colonials’ goalie. “UNC last year was the ACC, and that’s the same thing. We know what we have to do. We’re fortunate to have the game at home. From that end, we should be able to get up for it. It’s a good statement for our program if we do win, so we need to make sure we come ready to play and that we get a good result.”
GW opened its season with a tie against American followed by three straight wins over Howard, Delaware and George Mason. They have since fallen back to 3-1-2.
“We haven’t been coming out with a lot of energy,” sophomore Greg McKay said. “We’re not really playing as a unit very well. We’ve been working on that a lot this week, so I think it’s going to get a lot better.”
Many players on the Colonials squad believe they have many areas that are lacking.
“We need to become more aggressive on offense and on defense,” Lidster said. “We need to play more as a team. The players are working hard at practice at the moment to get all the kinks out. We realized that we’re just not firing on all cylinders yet.”
“We’ve been conceding really sloppy goals of late, so as a defensive hole we need to make sure that we sharpen up,” Biss said.
There have been a number of bright spots for the Colonials, though. The team has played well off the bench, including a goal against Rider from sophomore Thomas Stuber, who did not start. The goal was Stuber’s first of the year.
Junior Jeremiah Burke, a key member of the team’s defense, has also returned after missing the first five games of the season due to a leg injury. GW continues to win headers and tackles, two important aspects in controlling game play.
Junior Arturo Pedroso and seniors Andre Chapman and Ben Mortimer lead the Colonials this season with two goals apiece. McKay and senior Trevor Martin lead GW with two assists on the year.
The Hokies are the Colonials’ final non-conference match-up of the season. They will travel to Dayton, Ohio, Oct. 4 to open their Atlantic 10 conference play.
“Virginia Tech is used to top quality opponents week in and week out,” Lidster said. “They play that level every week; they’re going to be very prepared. But they are beatable.”