After a barrage of early-season injuries left the men’s soccer team scrambling for goalkeepers, head coach George Lidster turned to a familiar face – senior Erik Haug.
Haug, who started in goal for the Colonials last season, had opted to leave the team this season and turn his focus toward a business internship this fall, concentrating on his future career options off the field.
But when this season’s goalkeepers Devon Dubay and Brendan Lafferty suffered injuries, Lidster was forced to turn to junior defender Jake Davis in goal. When Davis struggled in his new role, Lidster looked to Haug to fill the void.
“I was a bit weary because I knew [Haug] was really focused on his career, as one does during senior year at GW,” Lidster said. “I decided I was going to ask him [to come back], but I wasn’t certain if he was going to be able to do it because of his other commitments.”
Lidster’s apprehension turned out to be unwarranted.
“First thing out of his mouth was ‘I’ll make it work,'” Lidster said.
Haug, who had been interning at the consulting firm Deloitte, said the company supported his soccer pursuits.
“Obviously playing soccer is time-consuming, but for me it was definitely an easy decision to put some of the business opportunities aside in order to play another season,” Haug said. “I missed the game, and I love the game, so I was definitely more than willing to step back in.”
Haug returned to the field Sept. 25, making his debut in a 1-0 loss to the University of the District of Columbia. The senior has quickly tried to regain his form since returning, a difficult task in a position that offers no escape from errors.
“When a goalkeeper makes a mistake, it’s generally a goal,” Lidster said. “He’s the last man standing.”
For his first two games, both in late September, Haug was that last man standing for the full game, allowing five goals in two losses.
“At first I definitely had to shake off some rust, but now I’m definitely beginning to feel my game coming back. I think those instincts are starting to click again,” said Haug.
Now, with a healthy Lafferty available for the team, Haug is battling both rustiness and competition. In GW’s last two games, a win against Rider and a loss at Richmond, Haug has started the first half, while Lafferty has substituted in goal during the second half.
Lidster expects the tandem of goalies to give the Colonials more than enough support as they head into two conference games this weekend against Charlotte and Saint Louis.
Regardless of who earns the starting position, Lidster said he has been impressed by Haug’s maturity during his return for a final soccer season.
“He has a great feeling for the team, and he has a great feeling for GW,” Lidster said. “Sometimes it’s good to have a break. You get a lot more mature as a person.”