Sans Stadler, Colonials drop close one

The GW men’s soccer team had trailed for 53 of the game’s 59 minutes Sunday against second-place Dayton when senior Erick Perez-Segnini took possession of the ball from 25 yards out, dribbling through a trio of Flyers and into the box. He looked up and saw an opportunity in front of him and blasted a shot past the Dayton keeper and into the goal’s left side to knot the score at one goal apiece.

“It was just a great individual effort,” head coach George Lidster said. “It was a good goal in any standard of soccer.”

Perez-Segnini leapt in the air and pounded his chest in response, but the celebration would quickly give way to yet another deficit. Less than two minutes later, Dayton’s Alex Torda was able to put a low shot past GW redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Erik Haug, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead they would hold through the game’s final whistle.

The score was the second of what Lidster described as “mental errors” that ultimately resulted in the Colonials’ (8-7-0, 2-4-0 Atlantic 10) first home loss in six games at the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex this fall. The first error came in the game’s sixth minute, when Dayton’s Evan McCreary put the second of two Flyers headers off a corner kick past Haug.

Dayton came close to adding two more first-half goals, with GW senior Mike Briscoe and sophomore Dave Thompson each clearing would-be scores just before they crossed the goal line. The Flyers had clear control of the game’s first 45 minutes, registering 11 shots to GW’s three.

Lidster said he made a tactical change at halftime, switching to a 4-4-2 formation in order to attack the Flyers and create more chances. After the Colonials matched the Flyers shot for shot in the second half and were able to break through on the scoreboard, Lidster said he was pleased with his team’s effort toward the end of the game.

Adding to the Colonials’ early offensive plight was the absence of senior leading scorer and Hermann Trophy candidate Andy Stadler, who sat out his third straight game with a hamstring injury. Lidster said the star forward is day-to-day. He hopes to have him back next weekend and for the rest of the year.

“He has the ability to win a game on his own. Just his presence on the field upsets the other team,” Lidster said of Stadler. “But hey, he’s missing and we’ve got to adapt to it. That’s all.”

With Sunday’s loss the Colonials are now tied for 12th in the A-10 with six points. Three points separate them from fifth and sixth-place Rhode Island and Temple, teams that would currently occupy the A-10 tournament’s final two seeds. GW hosts all three of its remaining games, beginning with Richmond Saturday at 3 p.m. and then Rhode Island and Massachusetts the following weekend.

Perez-Segnini said he and his teammates “know the feeling of being defeated” after suffering a crushing defeat under similar circumstances a year ago. Last fall, the Colonials also needed wins in their final three games to reach the A-10 postseason. They won two of the three before blowing a lead and losing at home to St. Bonaventure in their final game.

Lidster said he is thinking positively heading into the season’s final two weekends, but the team has to remain focused on the task at hand.

“I think all three games are winnable, but we’ve got to take them one at a time,” he said. “So Richmond is the most important game of the season on Saturday and then we’ll look forward to the next one.”

“There’s gonna be a lot of pressure next Saturday,” Perez-Segnini said. “A tie won’t do anything for us. We absolutely need to win. But I like the pressure – I really do.”

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