It was a game about pride, rather than points. The GW men’s soccer team was looking to finish on a high note, despite being eliminated from postseason play.
And with a 2-1 win over the LaSalle Explorers on Senior Day, the Colonials finished at 9-8-2 overall and 3-4-2 in conference play.
But for the 11 men on the field for GW it was far from meaningless, especially for those playing their last game. The team’s six seniors played like they had nothing to save for the next game, scoring both the team’s goals. Goalie Greg Yahr, also a senior, set a career-high with eight saves.
The Colonials started brightly, with senior striker Abimbola Pedro slotting home a goal at the near post in the fifth minute to give GW an early lead.
Senior Joachim Walker scored what ended up being the game-winner with a top corner blast after a weak clearance by LaSalle. The goal forced the Explorers to open up and the change soon paid off, as they found the back of the net in the 39th minute.
Push came to shove in the last few minutes though as several players on both sides had to be restrained after another aggressive challenge. The game ended with more scuffles and the two sides exchanged words, but after the game, GW’s seniors seemed to only care about one thing: the win.
LaSalle’s own seniors, who sat exhausted on the field long after the game, were noticeably emotional, not taking off their jerseys, knowing they might never pull them back on.
As much tension as there was between the two sides during the match, for the seniors they at least held a shared reality. For many, their days playing this game are over.
Happy as they were with the win, coming off the field to meet family and friends, GW’s seniors walked with an air of shock similar to that of their defeated opponents, as if the reality was just setting in.
Still, Yahr focused on his teammates and the program that will continue on after him, saying that it was crucial for the team to finish strong and secure a winning record.
“We wanted to get this win for the program, especially for the seniors,” he said. “This is a winning program.”
Walker added that it was important to end on a high note, especially for the younger guys who will have a next season.
“This was about pride. We wanted to finish above .500,” he said.
As GW graduates one of its most successful classes ever, Walker looked forward to the future of the program.
“Watching them (Friday against Fordham, when the Colonials won 3-2) I was just so proud of my boys, to see how they’ve grown. We’re a close-knit family,” he said.
Next time that family meets, there will be a lot of empty places at the table.