On a rainy Halloween afternoon, the GW men’s soccer team needed to win their game against Richmond Spiders to have any chance of qualifying for the Atlantic 10 tournament. But on a day more known for mischief and tricks, the Colonials made sure they took care of business before partaking in any Halloween festivities, beating the Spiders 1-0.
After a slow first half in which both teams struggled to produce scoring opportunities, GW (9-7-0, 3-4-0 A-10) did not take long to get on the board in the second half. Just 17 seconds into play, senior co-captain Mike Rollings made a back post run, beat the Richmond flank defender and scored what proved to be the game-winning goal.
“It was an individual effort, and Michael is capable of doing that,” head coach George Lidster said. “He’s getting his confidence back; he’s had a lot of injuries this season.”
Lidster, now in his 22nd season as head coach of this program, added that Rollings has scored many goals in the past when he has individually beaten the opposing team’s defenders.
“It wasn’t a designed play,” Rollings said. “I just kind of ran onto the cross and got an open opportunity.”
Freshman Seth Rudolph, who was named A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week last Monday, gave GW some solid minutes off the bench. The first-year forward had a breakaway in the 82nd minute and looked like he was going to net GW’s second goal of the game, but the adrenaline seemed to catch up to him as his shot sailed over the crossbar.
“He’s an intense player,” Lidster said. “He’s quick, he’s very talented. He’s gonna do very well [in this program].”
Richmond kept GW on its toes. They had a flurry of corner kicks around the 70th minute. Sophomore Ty Williams had a strike from the top of the box, but it was deflected by a GW defender. On the following corner kick, freshman Chase Johnston was set up with a beautiful header opportunity, but goalie Erik Haug made a spectacular save. And freshman forward Houston Oldham did not show any signs of giving up as he made many potent individual scoring efforts.
“I thought the season was going to be in the balance at that time. They had a lot of taller players on the field, but I thought we defended it well,” Lidster said.
The victory keeps the Colonials alive in the hunt for one of the A-10’s six championship tournament berths. GW is now in a three-way tie for eighth place with Temple and Massachusetts and trails the tournament’s current sixth seed – Rhode Island – by three points, the equivalent of one win.
The Colonials will have the opportunity to make their mark on the standings in two crucial home games this weekend. GW will host Rhode Island Friday at 2 p.m. and Massachusetts Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Athletic Complex to wrap up the regular season.