The GW men’s soccer team wasted no time getting on the board during the opening match of the D.C. College Cup – its first regular-season match – Wednesday afternoon, but an aggressive George Mason squad battled back with a flurry of second-half goals, topping the Colonials 3-1.
Just after kickoff, Colonials sophomore forward Seth Rudolph created a scoring chance in the box and was fouled by Mason defender Chase Miller just 12 seconds into the game. The Patriot’s rough play resulted in a penalty kick for GW (0-1), and junior Yoni Berhanu capitalized, giving the Colonials the one-goal advantage less than a minute into the contest.
Rudolph said he and his team knew scoring quickly would help allow them to set the pace of the game.
“We wanted to come out and play our game from the beginning,” Rudolph said. “We wanted to put pressure on them and try to get one early, which we did.”
The Colonials were given another advantage when Miller collected his second yellow card just 13 minutes into the match and was subsequently ejected, leaving his team to play a man down for the remainder of the game.
George Mason had a total of five yellow cards, while GW received two.
Even with a man advantage, the sweltering heat proved to be an obstacle for the Colonials, who struggled to maintain their aggressive game plan for the full 90 minutes. Despite controlling the pace of the game in the first half by maintaining possession and using their speed to create scoring opportunities, GW fell behind a strong and physical George Mason team that emerged from halftime rejuvenated and ready to even the 1-0 score.
Rudolph said he hopes the Colonials can improve their stamina and control the pace of the game for its entirety.
“We have to make sure we’re ready for every game, for a whole 90 minutes, not just the first 30,” he said.
Playing in near triple-digit temperatures, GW’s quick start in the first half took its toll on the Colonials, paving the way for George Mason’s second-half comeback against a tired GW squad. The Patriots’ rally began 15 minutes into the second half when George Mason midfielder Eber Martinez netted the equalizer for his team on a free kick.
The news quickly got worse for the Colonials when sophomore goalkeeper Brendan Lafferty was shaken up and subsequently taken out of the game following a penalty-box collision on a George Mason corner kick. The injury was especially costly for the Colonials, whose back-up goalie, freshman Devon DuBay, is recovering from a knee injury. Junior Jake Davis, who is listed on GW’s roster as a defender, replaced Lafferty in goal.
Assistant Sports Information Director Jesse Hooker said that Lafferty sustained a laceration above his eye and that the sophomore would also be screened for a concussion.
The game remained tied at one for much of the second half, until George Mason’s Alhagi Toure scored the go-ahead goal for the Patriots with eight minutes left, and George Mason forward Taylor Morgan sealed his team’s victory two minutes later with another goal.
GW Head Coach George Lidster said despite playing a strong first half, his team ran into difficulties maintaining its strong game play throughout the match.
“They’re going to learn that they’ve got to be more physical in games,” he said. “I can’t fault the effort. It was a good effort, they’ve just got to be more physical and maybe be a bit more composed in certain situations.”