FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 2 – Sophomore Erick Perez-Segnini had nothing to lose when he took a chance from 20 yards out with less than ten seconds remaining in the final overtime of the GW men’s soccer team’s match against Howard. Miss, and the teams tie as expected. Score, and Perez-Segnini achieves a rare feat – soccer’s version of a buzzer-beater.
Perez-Segnini didn’t miss. The Maryland native’s shot gave his team a 3-2 victory, its second straight win to start the year, and its first-ever D.C. College Cup.
“I definitely knew I was going to get a shot off,” Perez-Segnini said. “I was just looking for that extra room of space. I got it and went for it.”
Because overtime is sudden-death, any goal ends the game – but Perez-Segnini’s wasn’t just any goal. Perez-Segnini’s shot looked harmless until it bounced, allowing it to skip past both a Howard defender and goalie with just three seconds remaining. Teammates ran across the field to mob the midfielder, who made his way to the sideline before being dogpiled. A handful of Howard players collapsed to the ground with their hands on their faces in disbelief.
“I’d take a game like this (over an easy win) anytime, it was a big, big team win,” said Perez-Segnini, who was named the Tournament’s MVP. “We’re always going to remember this game.”
Perez-Segnini also scored with the clock winding down in the Colonials’ win over American 2-0 Friday in the first game of the four-team D.C. College Cup, but that goal was just for insurance.
With George Mason’s loss to American Sunday, GW became the only team to win both its games, giving the Colonials their first Craig Tartasky Trophy in the tournament’s seven-year existence.
“I think the wins are the most important, but you don’t get a chance to play for trophies much in college soccer, so it’d be a great feeling to get one,” senior Greg McKay, one of the team’s two captains, said before George Mason’s loss.
Both coach George Lidster and Perez-Segnini said that actually winning the Cup would be nice, but because they had done all they could and the outcome was out of their hands, it was not especially meaningful.
“People like trophies but for me the victories are more important,” said Lidster, who added that his overtime strategy was to be aggressive without giving up a cheap goal. “The cup doesn’t mean anything in the end.”
It is the first time since 2002 the team has started out 2-0.
“The guys know that we’re not the finished product,” Lidster said. “They know that we’ve got a long way to go yet and they’re striving for that, so I don’t think we’ll peak until midway through the year.”
He added, “We’re certainly not firing on all cylinders yet,” pointing out the team’s passing as the most obvious weakness.
Howard’s team impressed Lidster with its speed and creativity, and he was pleased that his team could “hang in with them.”
The win over Howard was the first close game the Colonials have played this season, including a 7-0 preseason win over Virginia Military Institute and wins over various English clubs over the summer. The trip to England brought the team closer, with a camaraderie that usually helps teams win close games.
“I think a lot of people would prefer easy wins, but (blowouts) can be boring. There’s no better feeling than winning in overtime, especially on a last-second shot,” McKay said.
Number Crunch: 3
The number of seconds remaining when sophomore Erick Perez-Segnini scored in double-overtime against Howard Sunday afternoon.
Men’s Water Polo
Sept. 1: Fordham, L, 12-4
Sept. 1: Penn State Behrend, W, 17-7
Sept. 2: Pacific, L, 17-15
Sept. 2: Northern Virginia (exhibition), L, 11-9
Aug. 31: New Hampshire, W, 1-0
Sept. 2: Vermont, W, 2-1 (OT)
Aug. 31: Virginia Commonwealth, W, 3-2
Sept. 1: Liberty, L, 3-2
Sept. 1: South Carolina, L, 3-0
Aug. 31: Mount St Mary’s Invitational
Men – T-3rd, Women – 3rd