Clutch Stadler needs help

Andy Stadler drips with confidence, not sweat. Figuratively speaking, anyway.

At first glance, the striker and top goal scorer for the GW men’s soccer team appears to be a typical Midwesterner: laid-back and soft-spoken. But on the field, Stadler transforms into a dominant player whose fiery determination is exceeded only by his ultra-cool demeanor late in games.

How cool?

“He’s got ice water in his veins,” said head coach George Lidster.

The junior has already scored second-half goals to tie the game or take the lead three times this season, including a two-goal, one-man comeback in the final nine minutes of GW’s 2-1 win at Mount St. Mary’s. The key to his heroics, Stadler said, is to “just go out and know you’re going score.”

“Before the season, I set a goal: I wanted to score in every game,” he said.

Stadler hasn’t met that goal, but leading the nation in goals per game is not a bad consolation. Entering the Virginia Tech game last Tuesday, Stadler led the nation in scoring with a 1.29 goals per game average. In that game, however, he started to see a change. Throughout the match, at least one Virginia Tech defender was constantly on “Stadler duty,” hounding him up and down the field. The result: no points, one shot-on-goal and immeasurable frustration for Stadler.

“If my teammates will start scoring too, that will open me up for more opportunities,” Stadler said.

Stadler has scored nine goals, with the rest of the team managing a total of eight. But he still needs more help, something both Stadler and Lidster believe the team is capable of providing.

“We’re a dangerous team,” said Stadler, adding, “We’re fast.”

One of GW’s speedsters is freshman forward Yoni Berhanu, who will return Friday at Xavier after missing two games with an injury.

“Yoni has great speed and he attracts a lot of attention,” Lidster said. “(Stadler’s) got a really good understanding with Yoni, but (Yoni) hasn’t played the last two games,” something Lidster believes has affected the play of Stadler.

Berhanu’s return will help, but teams will increasingly be zeroing in on Stadler. The team will have to find someone else to score, if only to take some defensive attention off Stadler.

The question is who.

Will it be the veteran presence of junior midfielder Erick Perez-Segnini? Or maybe freshman defender Ryan Ruffing will continue to grow. Stadler and Lidster agree that junior forward Mike Rollings is poised to go on a run following his first score against Virginia Tech.

Whoever makes the leap forward will have to adopt Stadler’s goal-scoring mentality.

Stadler said, “When we’re losing, and I have to score a goal or two to get us back in the game, that’s when I play my best.”

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