The men’s soccer team entered its game Saturday afternoon against the University of the District of Columbia looking for its first win since Sept. 8, and midway through the first half, it seemed as though GW was catching all the breaks.
In the 19th minute, UDC forward Desean Ragland charged cleats up into Colonial defender Alex Sandland, earning Ragland, UDC’s leading scorer, a red card in the ensuing scuffle.
Things looked even worse for the Firebirds when UDC head coach Khary Stockton was ejected from the game for arguing the play, leaving GW’s opponent without its head coach and without its top offensive weapon.
But instead of putting the Colonials in a commanding position to win the game, the ejections seemed to fire up the Firebirds, who scored the game’s only goal less than 10 minutes later on a corner kick from UDC’s Wilfredo Roque.
The goal – which Roque managed to bend inside the front post from the corner and off the hands of GW goalie Eric Huag – put the Firebirds up 1-0, the score by which they would eventually win the game.
The goal was especially impressive to GW (1-6) head coach George Lidster, who refused to blame Huag after his first appearance for GW this season.
“I thought it was an excellent corner, it swung in with great pace,” he said. “It was a fluke, but I’m not gonna blame Eric… I thought it shouldn’t have been a corner in the first place, I thought we should have cleared the ball before. I was disappointed that they got the corner, and in fact, it was their only corner of the game.”
The Colonials were held scoreless on offense for the third straight game, despite outshooting the Firebirds 22-8 and putting six shots on goal to UDC’s three. GW also had 18 corner kicks, compared to the Firebirds’ one.
With the man advantage, GW was able to maintain possession for much of the game and create opportunities, but struggled to translate those chances into goals.
In the 63rd minute, freshman midfielder Abdul Shaban took a corner kick, which sophomore defender Daniel Ripperger-Suhler headed off the near post. In the 74th minute, freshman forward Tyler Ranalli caught up to a long pass and beat the last defender, but shot the ball over the cross bar.
“Well if you look at the statistics we had 22 shots – probably the most we’ve ever had – and 18 corners; it’s surprising that we didn’t score a goal,” Lidster said. “Again, I hate to make this saying, I hate to make this excuse, but we’re young and inexperienced. We didn’t today have that killer instinct.”
For its part, UDC played a defensive strategy for much of the game, protecting its lead with a man down by leaving most of its players back to defend and not aggressively pushing the ball forward.
“I think we didn’t have the creativity to break them down. I thought we didn’t really stick to the game plan, we didn’t keep the ball wide to spread them out,” he said. “It made it a little easy for them… We didn’t give ourselves enough width to get around the back of the defense.”
GW will look to break its losing streak later this week when it travels to Annapolis, Md., this Wednesday for a game against Navy at 7 p.m.