The GW men’s soccer team entered the D.C. College Cup on the campus of George Mason Wednesday with two straight tournament titles to their name, having not dropped a game in the event since 2006. Ninety minutes of play, two red cards and two American goals later, they left with a season-opening defeat and two players ineligible to play their next time out.
The 2-0 loss was marked by rough play as the Eagles sought to contain GW senior forward Andy Stadler, who was recently put on the watch list for the Hermann Trophy, an award given to the nation’s top collegiate player. Being named to the list may have put a target on Stadler’s back as he sustained several hard fouls throughout the game.
“I think it was a bit of a shock for him,” Colonials head coach George Lidster said. “I think he’s going to be a marked man. Once his name is up there on that Hermann award list, people out there are trying to get him and they did.”
American’s first goal came in the dying minutes of the first half when, after a quick change in the point of attack, American senior Luis Martinez found junior David Menzie free with only the keeper to beat, a task he quickly accomplished.
Their second goal came in the 73rd minute on a long free kick. From thirty yards out American senior Karsten Smith saw his intended service trickle in after Martinez ran at GW’s keeper, senior Scott Goossens.
“The two goals were mistakes,” Lidster said. “And you get punished when you make mistakes like that.”
Goossens later received a red card after touching the ball with his hand outside the penalty box and was ejected with 15 minutes to play. Sophomore Jake Davis was ejected soon after when his foot came down on an American player after the two became tangled.
Though they were shut out, the Colonials did threaten, as they had the ball in dangerous positions throughout the game.
“We put together some movement, good rhythm and we got into the box a few times,” Lidster said. “But we didn’t pull the trigger, so to speak, when we’re in good scoring positions.”
One of the Colonials more promising chances came on a shot from senior forward Mike Rollings who nearly saw his shot dip under the crossbar.
This was the first regular season game of GW’s 2009 campaign, coming after playing just one exhibition contest. The Colonials were scheduled to play an additional preseason game but the game was canceled, leaving them less prepared than they had planned in their season opener.
“We only had one preseason game so it’s kind of tough to get used to the speed of the game really,” said Stadler.
While Lidster admitted the lack of games the team has played has left them not “firing on all cylinders,” he was pleased with the effort the team showed after having two players ejected.
“We played the last 15 minutes with nine men and I thought they battled very well,” he said. “It showed a bit of character that they didn’t cave in, so that was a pleasing part of the game.”
The Colonials’ next test comes on Saturday against Howard in their second leg of the D.C. Cup. In their last meeting at last season’s D.C. Cup, the Colonials overwhelmed the Bison in an 8-0 rout. A repeat performance could help GW find their stride early this season.
“Coming out Saturday and scoring a lot of goals, getting our confidence up will help a lot,” Stadler said.
The game is set for a 5 p.m. start.