It was starting to look like “one of those games.”
Late in the first half, after conceding a goal and squandering scoring chances, the men’s soccer team (4-2-1) needed to bolster its attack Saturday at Mount St. Mary’s.
Lucky thing that head coach George Lidster had an ace in the hole. Returning to the field late in the game after a rest, junior forward Andy Stadler struck his eighth and ninth goals of the season in the game’s final minutes to lead the Colonials to a dramatic 2-1 win Saturday.
Stadler, who entered the game with seven goals in six games (the highest goals-per-game average in the country), was just one part of an attack-minded triple substitution that shifted the momentum of the game back in GW’s favor for the final 15 minutes.
“I said to them to try and pass the ball better and not to panic,” said Lidster, who also brought on freshman forward Ryan Ruffing, who assisted on Stadler’s first goal, and junior midfielder Mike Rollings, who was a constant pest to the Mountaineers’ back line. “I thought they did a great job when they came back on.”
GW’s comeback was impressive, but the circumstances that put them behind in the first place are worrisome. The Colonials started the game with a dominating performance through the first 25 minutes, but much of the rest of the game was a battle. The team that had looked so strong in defeating American just a week ago looked like a shadow of its former self.
The malaise affected both sides of the ball. Mountaineer attackers gained confidence as GW’s defense struggled; what offensive chances the team could get, they could not finish. Ruffing and Rollings both had open-goal efforts cleared off the line by the Mountaineers in the first half, and even Stadler himself fluffed a few good chances.
“We probably should have had at least three by halftime,” Stadler said. “We missed a lot of chances . it was really frustrating.”
Things got worse for the Colonials as the Mountaineers took control of the game, breaking through GW’s defense and forcing goalkeeper Matt Scheer to make four saves. When freshman Chris Wheeler scored to put the Mountaineers ahead 1-0 in the 67th minute, it did not look good for GW.
But Mount St. Mary’s never broke the Colonials, leaving the door open for Stadler’s heroics.
“I thought we looked tired, and that’s where our depth comes in,” said Lidster. “If we didn’t have that depth, I think we would have fallen apart today.”