By almost any measure, junior striker Andy Stadler has been the number one story of the 2008 GW men’s soccer season, and deservingly so. The Milwaukee native has been in sparkling form so far, averaging a goal per game heading into Saturday’s 2-0 win at American.
But by halftime against the Eagles, it was the GW defense that looked like the stars of the team. The Colonials were up 1-0 (off a breakaway goal by Stadler), with junior Byron Walker leading a dominant GW back line in shutting down nearly every American attack.
Senior goalkeeper Matt Scheer shined as well – his sprawling, acrobatic save off a perfectly placed American free kick three minutes from halftime looked destined to be the play of the day for either squad.
Stadler must have been jealous. In the 58th minute, the striker stole the show yet again with an outstanding goal to put GW up 2-0. Stadler had Yoni Berhanu to thank, as it was the freshman’s perfectly placed lob pass over the defense that found Stadler on a run in the American penalty area. While fighting off three defenders, Stadler took two touches – one with his head and one with his foot – volleying the ball past American goalkeeper Matt Makowski for his second goal of the game and seventh of the season.
“It was a world class goal, a great pass and a superb finish” said satisfied head coach George Lidster after the game. “It was a very good win. That’s the best we’ve played so far this season.”
The result marks the second consecutive away win for the Colonials, who had struggled defensively in earlier games against Longwood and Loyola (Md.). Even more impressive, both shutouts were achieved without the services of highly touted freshman defender Brice Carr, who did not dress for either game due to a quadriceps strain.
“It’s hard when you switch people up, but we adjusted pretty well to it today,” said Walker, who delivered a gritty performance in central defense alongside Carr’s replacement, freshman Jake Davis. The pair was instrumental not only in shutting down American’s forwards in the first half, but also in dealing with the Eagles’ sudden increase in physical play to start the second. So sudden, in fact, that the team recorded their first foul on Stadler less than ten seconds after the start of the half.
“As the game goes on they got a little more desperate, more physical and kind of put it out on the line a little more,” said Walker. “You just got to match it, there’s not much else to it. If they’re going to give everything, you got to give everything too.”
It’s a philosophy the team must have taken to heart. In the 55th minute, American squandered their best chance of the afternoon – a three on one breakaway that was foiled by some good positional goalkeeping by Scheer. Lidster said afterwards that if the Eagles had scored, “it would have been a different game.” Thee minutes later, Stadler scored his wonder goal.
Stadler currently has seven goals in six games, matching last year’s team-high total. He is on pace for 20 goals. The GW single season goal scoring record is 19, set by Mario Lone in 1989 and tied by Matthew Osborne in 2002. In the last five years, GW’s goal-scoring leaders have been as follows:
2007: Andy Stadler, 7
2006: Thomas Stuber, 6
2005: Andre Chapman, 5
2004: Frank Ambrosio, 7
2003: Arnar Johannsson, 12