Carrying an Atlantic 10 Conference record of 1-4-1 going into the weekend, the GW men’s soccer team knew it probably had to win its three remaining games to successfully defend its A-10 championship. After a 2-0 upset over Saint Louis on Oct. 28, it appeared as if the Colonials could pull it off, but a 4-0 loss to 20th-ranked Duquesne (12-3-0, 6-1-0 A-10) two days later dropped the Colonials to 5-8-3 and 2-5-1 in the A-10.
“The seniors that are here have won (the A-10 tournament) twice (in 2002 and 2004), and so we know how it is to win it. It’s kind of different for us,” senior tri-captain Trevor Martin said.
Duquesne 4, GW 0
GW began the game strong, keeping control of the ball and pushing toward Duquesne’s goal. Despite the apparent dominance, the Dukes were first to score 12 minutes in when junior Tom Sochacki sent a floater from the right corner of the field across the net to sophomore Travis MacKenzie, who headed the ball past Colonials goalie sophomore Greg Yahr.
Play continued evenly when, with 20 minutes remaining in the first half, GW senior Steve Brown, the team’s point leader, went down after a collision with a Duquesne player. He sustained a knee injury and did not return. The first half ended with Duquesne leading 1-0.
“The first half we did do well,” GW coach George Lidster said. “One little mistake and we went in one-nil down at halftime. We lost Brown, our playmaker, who is a big factor in the team.”
Added Martin, “I thought that (Brown’s injury) might have had a lot to do with (the loss).”
Duquesne took over in the second half. Seven and a half minutes in, junior Noah Salsi launched a shot that bounced off the top of the GW post, off Yahr’s hands and into the right side of the net.
“Once the second goal went in I think that killed us off,” Lidster said.
Salsi also assisted senior Steve Mellor on the game’s third goal, which came with half an hour left to play. The Dukes capped off the win with five and a half minutes remaining, when Yahr came out of goal to chase down sophomore Greg Annon. The resulting pass gave senior Scott Gibson an easy shot into the center of the net.
GW 2, Saint Louis 0
Freshman Michael Rollings scored both of the Colonials’ goals to hand Saint Louis its first Atlantic-10 Conference loss. The Billikens were coming off a 4-3 overtime win against Duquesne.
GW controlled the ball from the first whistle, although each team had multiple scoring opportunities. With three and a half minutes remaining, the Billikens were granted a free kick that was deflected in front of the net by one of their own players. Two minutes later, a kick from the center of the goalie box appeared to be heading wide left before hooking right, over Colonials goalie senior Derek Biss’ head, and knocking off the top post and over the back of the goal. The crowd gasped in what fans and players believed would be the game’s first score. Despite each team’s five shots, the game remained scoreless at halftime.
In the beginning of the second half again had the Colonials in control. Seven and a half minutes in, sophomore Abimbola Pedro found Rollings, the reigning A-10 Rookie of the Week, wide open in front of the center of the goal. A quick pass gave Rollings an easy shot into the center of the net. Brown was also credited with an assist.
Despite GW’s dominance, Saint Louis found control midway through the half. Strong goal coverage and quick reactions by Biss held the Billikens scoreless.
Twenty minutes after the game’s first goal, Rollings, who took six of the team’s 10 shots, again tallied for his fourth goal of the season. This time the goal was unassisted, as Rollings dribbled in from 20 yards out, outstepped the goalie, and put the ball into the right side of the net.
Senior Matt Miller honored
Before Sunday’s game, the Colonials had a special honoring of Matt Miller, who has spent the past two seasons as one of the team’s captains. Miller joined the squad five years ago as a walk-on, and during his time as a Colonial has helped the team win two A-10 championships as well as qualify twice for the NCAA tournament.
The Colonials will finish their regular season Saturday at home against La Salle.