For the GW men’s soccer team, it’s getting down to the wire.
After enduring a grueling schedule that saw them play 11 of their first 14 games on the road, the Colonials must travel one last time with more at stake than ever.
Richmond, their opponent on Saturday, is a team on the rise. After an awful start to their non-conference season (losing 7 out of 8 games), the Spiders suddenly hit their stride with the start of the conference season and currently sit only two points behind the Colonials in the Atlantic 10 standings. GW (6-5-3, 2-2-2 A-10) currently sits at seventh place in the conference.
GW hasn’t won a conference game away from the District this year. Richmond hasn’t lost a conference game at home. A win for either side would put them in great position for postseason play. To say the least, it’s a big game. So it’s only appropriate that it kicks off in prime-time.
“It’s at night, in front of their fans, and they need to win as well,” head coach George Lidster said. “It will be a very tough, hard-fought game.”
That said, the Colonials look to have the offensive advantage going in, with Andy Stadler’s 12 goals leading the Colonials’ attack against the conference’s worst defense – Richmond has let in an average of over two goals per game. But recently, Stadler has become only one of multiple threats in the Colonials’ offensive arsenal.
Juniors Erick Perez-Segnini and Mike Rollings in particular have become increasingly dangerous, combining for four goals and two assists in the Colonials’ last four games. Those goals have come in handy – after racing to the top of the national scoring charts with a blistering start to the season, Stadler has faced near constant man-marking by conference opponents, limiting his effectiveness going toward goal.
“He’s been having two or three people on him every game, but that also opens a lot of us up for opportunities,” Perez-Segnini said. “It’s really unfair to Stadler that we’ve been relying on him to win us games every day, so it’s good that other people have started to step up and score goals.”
Of course, whether or not they will score goals is a different story. The Colonials come into the game after a disappointing road trip through New England last week, drawing 1-1 with Rhode Island before losing 2-0 at Massachusetts. Perez-Segnini scored the only goal of the weekend for GW.
In addition, the Colonials will be facing a Richmond defense that may actually be better than its statistics indicate. Since the start of the conference season, the Spiders have yet to concede a goal at home.
“They’ve changed their system quite a bit since the start of the season, so really we don’t know tactically what we’ll be up against,” said Lidster, who also indicated that the short travel time between D.C. and Richmond would help his team’s fitness after long-distance trips through Ohio and the Northeast.
“Every game in the A-10 is a battle,” Perez-Segnini said. “It’s just going to come down to what team shows up on the day.”