All the GW men’s soccer team needed against George Mason was a little luck. Battling the elements Friday, that’s just what they got.
The Colonials kicked off their season with a 1-1 draw against the Patriots, squeaking out a tie with a fortunate equalizer less than a minute after GMU scored its goal. The game was GW’s first match-up of the D.C. College Cup, an event the Colonials won a year ago.
Junior Andy Stadler knotted the game for the Colonials just 19 seconds after George Mason opened the scoring with a low shot from the top of the box by substitute Patrick Barthold. Stadler’s wide-open header on the Colonials’ next possession wasn’t particularly well-hit or well-placed, but Patriots’ goalkeeper Sean Kelley still made a mess of it in the wet conditions, allowing the ball to slip through his legs and over the goal line.
“It was pretty lucky, I guess. I didn’t hit it all that hard,” Stadler said after the game. “I didn’t even think it was in, but then everyone started cheering and it was like, ‘Hey! A goal!'”
Lucky or not, the two goals marked the pinnacle of a game that could have easily been a high-scoring affair were it not for all-around solid displays by both goalkeepers.
GW redshirt senior Matt Scheer had a career-high 10 saves for the Colonials, while his counterpart Kelley had eight saves for GMU despite his error on Stadler’s goal.
Most of the chances for both teams came during the first half, played in a driving rain that soaked the field and the ball, making it difficult for attackers Stadler, Yoni Berhanu and Ryan Ruffing to get solid connections on their shots.
“I thought we were a bit jittery to start, which is understandable, since it’s the first game of the season,” GW head coach George Lidster said. “We had a few chances, but they were the better team, I thought. They had more clear-cut chances than us.”
The second half started more brightly for GW, who dominated the opening 25 minutes with a flurry of attacks that flowed mostly through midfielder Mike Rollings. However, the Colonials’ momentum appeared all but dead when GMU’s Barthold latched on to a corner kick and delivered the game’s first goal.
GW fought back immediately, and within seconds of restarting the contest Stadler had pulled the Colonials level. From then on, the Patriots slowly but surely took control of the game, forcing goalkeeper Scheer into several key stops both in regulation and in overtime to preserve the tie.
“You’ve got to give credit to (GW) – that we managed to come out and go for the tie against a good team like Mason,” Lidster said. “I think we’ve still got a lot to learn . but I think we would have been upset if we had lost this game.”