Atlantic 10 play has not been kind to the men’s soccer team this season. The Colonials have scored just once in their five A-10 games so far and are winless in conference play.
If GW hopes to get into the winning column against a conference opponent this season, it will have to do so on the road after the Colonials dropped their final two games of the season over the weekend, 3-0 to Fordham Friday and 2-0 Sunday on Senior Day to La Salle.
In Friday’s game, GW (2-12, 0-5 A-10) was unable to respond to an early Fordham goal. In the sixth minute, Fordham midfielder John Niyonsaba served a free kick into the penalty box which was deflected and eventually headed in by Ram defender Marcus Axelsson. Head coach George Lidster wasn’t pleased with the goal or with his team’s play Friday in general.
“I was upset with the goal we gave away. They won two headers on the free kick,” Lidster said. “I was frustrated with another mistake which cost us a goal. I don’t mind when teams are creating good goals against us, but we seem to be giving away individual mistakes, which is costing us goals.”
GW changed its shape in the second half, bringing up freshman Tyler Ranalli as an extra forward to create more offensive opportunities. In its early stages, the adjustment worked, as GW produced two free kicks – both close to the goal – and two corner kicks within the first four minutes.
The best opportunity came when junior Yoni Berhanu hooked a free kick from 20 yards, but Fordham goalie Ryan Meara made a diving save to keep GW off the scoreboard. Fordham went on to score two more goals in the 53rd and 78th minutes, blanking the Colonials 3-0.
During Sunday’s game against La Salle, GW’s final home game of the season, seniors Kory Trott, Steve Wujek, Erik Haug and Marcus Ranney were all honored. Wujek – a team manager this season after struggling through injuries for much of his GW career – and Trott – who has been sidelined with a knee injury – did not play in their final home game. Ranney and Haug both started for the Colonials.
For Ranney, a team captain, the game carried extra emotion Sunday afternoon.
“I prepare the same way as I would for any other home game, but definitely a little more emotional just because it’s the last game I’ll play on this field and I’ve been here for four years,” he said.
Playing with five midfielders instead of their usual four, the Colonials were able to maintain possession and create breakaway opportunities for their forwards. Much of the team’s extra motivation, Lidster said, came from a desire to help the seniors end their GW careers with a win in their final home game.
“It’s a pretty close group, and they all want to do well for the seniors,” Lidster said. “We had a little bit of a spark, and I thought we played some of our best soccer of the season at times. We put some good passes together, some good combinations, but we just didn’t have the strength to finish it off.”
GW was able to put together seven shots in the first half, and it topped that with nine shots in the second half, although the team wasn’t able to translate any of those shots into goals against the Explorers.
While the Colonials struggled to find the back of the net, La Salle did manage to find some offensive success Sunday. La Salle forward Ryan Richter was able to break the scoreless deadlock in the 67th minute, scoring off an assist from teammate Jidell Roach. Richter scored his second goal less than 10 minutes later, putting a shot from outside the penalty box into the top-left corner of the goal.
Despite allowing the two goals, Haug had a strong final home game for GW, recording six saves, including one off a La Salle free kick.
“I though [Haug] did very very well. He kept us in it, made some great saves, and had no chance with their two goals,” Lidster said.
For Ranney, the loss was disappointing, but with so few players departing the team at the end, the senior said that the minutes that the Colonials’ young players have logged this season will pay dividends down the road.
“I’m definitely optimistic about the future, a lot of our young guys have shown a lot of talent,” Ranney said. “It’s hard to come in as a freshman and immediately get playing time. The intensity is so much different in Division I than [high school]. They’ve really shown a lot of heart and done well.”
GW will look for its first conference win of the season later this week when it travels to St. Bonaventure this Friday.