Men’s soccer coach George Lidster’s plan going into this weekend’s games was relatively simple: Score goals. On Sunday, it got a bit harder: Score goals without leading scorer Andy Stadler.
After netting two goals and assisting on another in GW’s 5-2 win over Temple on Friday, Stadler rolled his ankle and was promptly substituted out of the game. The Wisconsin native said he experienced swelling in the ankle before Sunday’s match with St. Joseph’s, so he joined teammates Byron Walker and Ryan Ruffing on the sidelines. Walker, a senior defender, is battling injuries, while the freshman striker Ruffing was forced to sit out after receiving a red card Friday.
The loss of Stadler could potentially have been a huge one for the team – he entered the weekend leading the nation in goals per game with 10 strikes in as many matches.
But the absences didn’t seem to bother the Colonials offensively or defensively, as they trounced the Hawks 5-0 to give them a winning record in the conference.
“They were two must-wins,” Lidster said after Sunday’s game. “If we hadn’t cleaned up this weekend we would have been behind the rest of the league.”
Luckily for the Colonials (6-4-2, 2-1-1 Atlantic 10), their offense got started early on Friday. Stadler scored the first of his two goals against Temple two minutes into the game, and senior Dave Leon added a second just two minutes later. Before the first half was over, Stadler had scored another. By the end of the game even the freshmen contributed, with goals from Ruffing and Yoni Berhanu.
“The past four or five games, we’ve started off really well. We’d have a ton of shots on goal but no goals. That was everybody, even Andy,” junior midfielder Mike Rollings said. “This week we just worked on finishing and being clinical in front of goal.”
The extra training clearly paid off for everyone. Among the players that stepped up for the Colonials in the absence of Stadler and Ruffing were Rollings and junior Erick Perez-Segnini, who both delivered strong offensive performances against St. Joseph’s. Perez-Segnini got it all started 13 minutes into the match, quickly firing a free kick into the back of the net before St. Joseph’s goalkeeper Brian Benedict had a chance to set up his defenders or react to the shot itself.
The goal drew a fair amount of protests from Benedict, but he would have bigger problems before long. After a well-placed flick-on header by Perez-Segnini found freshman Berhanu one-on-one with Benedict, the St. Joseph’s goalkeeper brought Berhanu down in the box, leading to an ejection for Benedict and a penalty kick for GW. Leon calmly converted the opportunity, sliding the ball past backup goalkeeper Joe Bodnar.
St. Joseph’s struggled to play the rest of the match a man down, giving up 19 shots to the Colonials while creating only seven of their own. Sophomore Steve Wujek scored his first collegiate goal on a breakaway, and Mike Rollings capped off a dangerous performance with two goals in one minute.
“It was good for me, because I’ve missed a lot of chances this year,” Rollings said after the game. “We know we’re a deep team and we know that we have guys that can get the job done and all of them stepped up today.” n