Many teams look back after a loss and wish they could have presented a more offense-oriented, aggressive attack from the first whistle.
For the Colonials (3-3), a lack of urgency doomed their chances of taking down non-conference opponent Bryant University this weekend. Despite one late goal, GW’s overall effort was not enough to overcome the Bulldogs’ two second-half scores.
Although the Colonials carried momentum from a previous victory into Sunday’s match, head coach Craig Jones said his team failed to capitalize on that advantage.
“Obviously we were coming off a good win, so the confidence was high. But we knew it was going to be difficult playing Bryant at Bryant,” he said. “Unfortunately we didn’t play as well as we could have. When you turn the ball over as much as we did, you can’t get into any kind of rhythm, and you keep giving it back to the opposition.”
Turnovers aside, GW only produced one shot on goal in the first half and won only one corner kick in the entire match. Bryant, on the contrary, produced eight shots on goal before the 45th minute and strung together eight corner kicks on the day.
The Colonials’ inability to put shots on net is a statistic that Jones could easily point to when dissecting the reasons for the loss.
“We get into good positions, but for whatever reason right now, we are reluctant to pull the trigger. Until we start doing that, we’re not going to score the goals that we should be scoring,” Jones said.
In the second half, GW’s defense could not withstand Bryant’s offensive push. Despite three saves by redshirt freshman JP van der Merwe in the period, two out of the Bulldogs’ eight shots found the back of the Colonials’ net.
The blows came within five minutes of one another, continuing GW’s trend of allowing goals in bunches this year. At the D.C. College Cup game against George Mason earlier in the month, the Colonials yielded three goals to the opposition in the first 24 minutes of play.
Though he said the whole team was responsible for the goals allowed in the game against Bryant, Jones also said the battle for No. 1 goalkeeper has not yet been won.
“There’s still a competition for places there,” Jones said. “We have the options to change things if we think that’s the best thing for the group. And obviously we’ll make that by the end of the week going into the next game.”
For now though, Jones’ emphasis during practice will be double-edged. First on the list is helping his team recognize when to go for the goal. In their three losses this season, the Colonials have averaged less than one goal per game.
On the other end of the pitch, Jones is hopeful that his players can tighten up their defense and prevent the type of easy shot opportunities that have been abundant for GW opponents this season.
“Unfortunately there’s a [recurring] theme in terms of us keeping possession and quality in the final third. Defensively we need to be a little bit stronger so we don’t concede cheap goals,” he said.
More than anything though, Jones hopes his team will have more confidence in its offensive capabilities, because as Bryant proved on Sunday, the more goals you go for, the more goals you will score.
“The stats don’t lie. When you take as few shots as we did, certainly in the first half, it’s all relative,” Jones said. “If you don’t shoot, you don’t score. If you don’t score, you don’t win.”
The Colonials will host the UMBC Retrievers Saturday.