Men’s soccer’s season ends with split

Bittersweet.

That’s how GW men’s soccer senior Mike Rollings described the last college soccer game he would ever play. Having been eliminated from Atlantic 10 playoff contention with Friday’s loss to Rhode Island, the team’s seniors ended their four-year journey in the program with a 3-0 home win over Massachusetts Sunday.

Facing a must-win situation as they tried to climb into one of the conference’s final tournament spots on the season’s last weekend, the Colonials (10-8-0, 4-5-0 A-10) started Friday’s game on a positive note as senior Andy Stadler scored in the 15th minute off a pass from sophomore Jake Davis.

With aggression being a common factor between GW and Rhode Island, the Rams did not seem bothered by Stadler’s early score, responding with two goals in a two-minute span late in the first half to take the lead.

These two goals eventually proved fatal for the Colonials, as they were not only unable to equalize but allowed another two scores in the second half to give Rhode Island an eventual 4-1 win. The loss knocked GW out of the A-10 tournament picture, the second straight season in which the team was eliminated by a loss at home.

Although they were already knocked out of the A-10 running, the seniors did not seem ready to end their careers on a poor note. Playing in the final game of his illustrious GW career, Stadler again provided all of the team’s scoring, knocking in three goals to give the Colonials a 3-0 win.

“I just wanted to score a couple goals,” Stadler said. “I definitely didn’t think I was going to get a hat trick.”

Stadler’s scoring frenzy started in the 20th minute when he gracefully received a long ball in the box from fellow senior Nikolay Aleksandrov and ripped it into the left corner of the net past the Massachusetts keeper. His next two goals came in the match’s 80th and 87th minutes, securing the shutout win for the Colonials.

The three scores gave Stadler a conference-best 13 goals this year and put him fourth all-time at GW with 35 in 60 career matches. With 13 career assists, Stadler’s 83 career points were fifth-best in program history.

“He could score goals at will,” Rollings said of his teammate, a preseason candidate for the prestigious Hermann Trophy.

Head coach George Lidster could not have been more proud of his seniors as they walked off the field for the last time Sunday.

“I thought they did great, and I’m very proud of them,” Lidster said.

With 10 seniors graduating, Lidster’s team will have a lot of spots to fill for next season. The potential of underclassmen such as freshman midfielder Mattia Melillo and sophomore Yoni Berhanu and next year’s crop of newcomers, has Lidster feeling comfortable as he looks toward the program’s future.

“I think we’ll be okay,” Lidster said. “We have a good recruiting class coming in, and I am very sorry to see our seniors go, but this will be like another era.”

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