Lackluster season ends for men’s soccer team

The GW men’s soccer team’s season certainly had its ups and downs. On the heels of the 2004 Atlantic 10 men’s soccer title and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA tournament, anything less could be deemed disappointing.

After beginning the 2005 season 3-0-1, with victories over Howard, Delaware and George Mason and a tie against American, the Colonials took a downward turn, losing five of their next six games to Towson, Lehigh, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Dayton. In the midst of those six games was also a disappointing tie at home against Towson, a team that had failed to score a goal all season before visiting Mount Vernon.

The loss to Virginia Tech appeared to wear on GW. Despite GW’s retaining a 3-2 lead at halftime, the Hokies tied the game mid-way through the second half and found victory with eight minutes remaining in double overtime.

Looking toward the team’s three final games, against conference newcomer and perennial soccer power Saint Louis, nationally ranked Duquesne and La Salle, which also needed some final victories to secure a spot in the tournament, a postseason appearance did not look promising.

A 2-0 victory over Saint Louis proved that the Colonials weren’t going down without a fight.

“Beating Saint Louis (was a highlight of the season),” senior tri-captain Matt Miller said. “It was the first time we ever played them. They’re a national power. It was great.”

The 4-0 loss to Duquesne two days later officially eliminated the Colonials from the playoffs despite ending the season in a 3-0 victory over La Salle.

For the nine seniors on the team, the win was bittersweet. Although they had spent the past 90 minutes dominating the visiting Explorers, the Colonials also knew that it meant the end of the collegiate careers of what GW coach George Lidster called “the most successful group of seniors in GW soccer history.”

Success is what this talented group of players has found over the past four years. Tri-captains Miller, Ben Mortimer and Trevor Martin, along with Frank Ambrosio Derek Biss, Steve Brown and Andre Chapman, were part of the 2002 Atlantic-10 championship squad. Meanwhile, Jon Allen, a transfer from the University of Rochester (N.Y.) joined the Colonials two years ago, helping to again secure the A-10 title in 2004.

“(The seniors have won) two championships. They’ve got nothing to be ashamed of for their careers or for this season, they’ve been great,” Lidster said.

Of those nine seniors, six tallied at least once in the 2005 season, and six recorded at least one assist. Chapman led the team with five goals with Brown, Martin and Ambrosio leading the Colonials in assists with six apiece. Biss had three shutouts and 71 saves in goal. The team’s overall points leader was sophomore Abimbola Pedro, who had four goals and three assists. Freshman Michael Rollings became one of the team’s prominent forwards toward the end of the season, tallying four goals and an assist in the team’s final seven games. He was also awarded two consecutive terms as the A-10 rookie of the week.

Although the Colonials are losing many of its top players, they are still left with a strong group.The squad will be led by juniors Arturo Pedroso, Joseph Siegel and Jeremiah Burke. Sophomores Greg McKay, Matt Davis, Thomas Stuber, David McConoghey, Joachim Walker, Dillon Colucci and Pedro will also be returning to the team. Sophomore Matt Scheer will challenge Yahr for time in goal while freshman David Leon will also be expected to make a large contribution.

“We’ve got (Assistant Coach) Jake Ouimet out beating the bushes throughout the United States and abroad (finding players),” Lidster said.

“The whole season, it was great to come back, it was great to play another year … I love these guys.” Miller said.

“It’s sad, it’s frustrating how the season ended but I’m also really happy and joyful,” Martin said. “Just being with these guys on the last day, playing for GW, I think that’s a highlight. I’m going to miss playing with everyone that was here.”

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