After 45 minutes of play, the men’s soccer team went into halftime with a lot to be happy about Tuesday night. The Colonials had managed to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0 against sixth-ranked Duke, despite the fact that the Blue Devils had out-shot the Colonials 11-0.
“We changed our formation a little bit, we moved to a 4-5-1, so we’d be a little more defensive with only one forward,” Head Coach George Lidster said of his team’s strategy against Duke. “The game plan worked perfectly. The players stuck to their tasks, all played their roles well, and we were playing as a team. [Duke] was very frustrated at halftime.”
The strong first half, however, did not carry over once halftime ended for the Colonials, and the Blue Devils came out firing in the second half. Duke forward Ryan Finley did not waste any time, scoring his team’s first goal less than a minute into the second half, a goal that Lidster described as “fortunate.”
From there, Finley exploded with two more goals within the next six minutes, essentially putting the game out of reach for GW. When Duke’s Matthew Thomas tacked on a fourth goal in the 55th minute, any remaining hope was extinguished.
“They got the first goal, then they got a pretty second goal, then it seemed like the game was over,” Lidster said. “It’s just a lack of maturity of the team at the moment. We’re charging the ball trying to get a goal back when we should be staying back to defend. We’re just a little bit too adventurous right now.”
While the GW (1-4) defense played well against the Blue Devils through the first half, the offense struggled mightily against the Duke defense, managing just two shots and no shots on goal Tuesday.
“It was a bit more of the Duke defense. Although we didn’t get many shots, we had many scoring opportunities. There were a lot of last-ditch tackles by the Duke defense, and the defenders weren’t allowing us to get shots off,” Lidster said.
GW played its fourth straight game without sophomore goalie Brendan Lafferty, who hasn’t played since being removed from GW’s 3-1 loss Sept. 1 to George Mason with a concussion. With freshman goalkeeper Devon DuBay also sidelined with a knee injury, junior defender Jake Davis has taken over the goalie duties for the team.
The matchup Tuesday night also served as a reunion of sorts for Lidster and Duke head coach John Kerr, who were teammates on the Washington Stars of the American Soccer League and later of the American Professional Soccer League.
After opening the season with five consecutive road games, the Colonials will make their home debut Friday against Coastal Carolina. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.