Before the Colonials step out onto the field, Seth Rudolph high fives all of his teammates.
It’s important to the team’s senior co-captain that he takes every measure to make sure the Colonials start each game focused and ready to play. If they don’t, he said, that distraction will translate into poor performance on the field.
“We’ve had a few games when we don’t have urgency or any energy, and it has deteriorated our play,” Rudolph said. “So just getting everyone energized and ready to go, and getting everyone really focused on the game really helps.”
Rudolph may rally his team through the good and the bad behind the scenes, but he is also a leading force on the field. Last season, during his junior campaign, he was the team’s second-highest scorer, with a total of eight goals.
He is the Colonials’ current leading scorer, having netted four goals so far this season. And that’s the role he envisions himself playing.
“As a forward, I’m meant to score goals. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing,” Rudolph said.
A native of Belleville, Ill., Rudolph started playing soccer at a young age. As a child, he developed his love for the game on the sidelines of his older brothers’ games, where he watched and tried to emulate them.
Rudolph became the only one of his brothers to play at the collegiate level, and he said he’s used that experience to strengthen his play each year. That, in turn, has helped to boost his leadership ability off the pitch. He said he takes the role of captain seriously, saying that in addition to leading the team to wins, he needs to keep the team organized and in the right state of mind for games.
“I try to be a good role model on the field and off the field, just so the younger guys can see how to act,” he said.
Just as the Colonials as a whole have had difficulty shooting this season, Rudolph said he has struggled with shooting and scoring this year, so he has spent additional time working on those skills with the coaching staff after practice.
Head coach Craig Jones said Rudolph also sets an example in the team’s strength and conditioning program, setting the bar by pushing himself in those workouts and demonstrating their importance to other members of the team.
“He’s not the tallest or the biggest soccer player we have, but he makes up for it with the extra things that he does in the strength and conditioning,” Jones said.
Rudolph has developed into a quick, powerful player, Jones said, attributing a portion of that to his weight room training. That speed, Jones added, is one of the most potent attributes of Rudolph’s attack, and has transformed him into GW’s most lethal offensive weapon.
“His change of pace and his change of direction get him in spots to hopefully score some goals,” Jones said.
Rudolph’s ability to score goals has led to a number of accomplishments as a Colonial. He was an A-10 preseason first team selection this year, and last season played a big role in helping GW win a share of the regular season title and make a trip to the championship game.
It’s an accomplishment Rudolph is understandably proud of, especially given the way the 2011 Colonials exceeded expectations. He hopes that this year GW might mirror last season’s play, but also wants the team to appreciate the challenge that lies ahead of them. He is trying to get the team focused and motivated for A-10 play, which he said really is like a new season.
And as conference play begins, Rudolph hopes to see improvement in his own play in order to lead the Colonials to victory once more.
“My biggest goal is just to set a good example,” he said. “And win.”