The GW men’s soccer team came into the weekend with a pair of home games on the schedule, looking for its first Atlantic 10 victory of the season. The Colonials had chances in both games, but ultimately fell twice on the weekend, 2-0 to No. 23 Charlotte (NSCAA/HendrickCars.com) Friday and 1-0 against Saint Louis Sunday.
The Colonials (2-1, 0-3 A-10) knew they had a tough task ahead of them Friday in Charlotte, but GW managed to clamp down on the 49ers defensively through the first half. The game was tied 0-0 at halftime, as Charlotte struggled to generate scoring opportunities against the Colonials’ defense.
“Obviously we’re playing a very good team, an excellent team, 23rd ranked in the country. I thought they executed the game plan perfectly in the first half,” head coach George Lidster said. “They really didn’t create any really good chances, in fact, we had the best chance when Yoni [Berhanu] took the shot that got cleared off the line. So I was very pleased with the first half.”
Things began to turn for the Colonials in the 60th minute, when senior defender Kory Trott was charged with a yellow card after a hard slide tackle. Charlotte forward Andres Cuero took advantage of the opportunity, bending the free kick in the back of the net for the first goal of the game. Just three minutes later, Charlotte midfielder Will Mayhew scored the second goal of the game, after GW was unable to clear a loose ball off of a corner kick. Two goals proved to be enough for Charlotte, as it went on to win 2-0.
Sophomore goalkeeper Brendan Lafferty made only his second start of the year Sunday against Saint Louis. Lafferty had been limited to playing just a half per game in recent contests while recovering from a pair of concussions he sustained early in the season. Lidster said he was impressed with Lafferty’s return Sunday.
“I thought he did well today, I though he looked a little shaky for 10 minutes there in the first half. But after that I thought he recovered well, and he was a good presence in goal,” he said.
Lafferty’s performance was not enough though, allowing what would become the game-winning goal in the 17th minute when GW defender Jamie LaFleur tried to clear a missed Saint Louis shot. Billiken midfielder Devon Newport stole the ball from LaFleur and was able to bang the ball into the back of the net, putting his team up for good.
Despite being unable to score for the seventh time this season, GW did manage 11 shots and three shots on goal against the Billikens, including two from junior Yoni Berhanu that clanked off the post instead of finding the back of the net.
“We created a lot more chances, a couple of Yoni’s shots hit off the post,” Lidster said. “And in the second half for the first time we had people sliding in, and it was really unfortunate. We attacked the ball a lot better, we just didn’t have the luck today to get that goal.”
Defensive starters Mike Burke and Alex Sandland were unable to play in either game this weekend due to injuries, and captain Marcus Ranney – also injured – was limited in both games. The injuries left GW with holes to fill, but also allowed more of the team’s young roster to play valuable minutes.
“To be honest, we have great kids off the bench to come in, and step in. Kids stepped up today who normally don’t get that much playing time,” sophomore forward Seth Rudolph said. “We played a great game, we were just unlucky.”
Even after the loss to Saint Louis, the team’s eighth in its last nine games, Rudolph was optimistic that his team is beginning to move in the right direction.
“If we play together for the whole 90 minutes like we did today. next game expect the tides to turn,” Rudolph said.
GW will be at home again Friday for a game against Fordham. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.