As the Colonials opened conference play this weekend, they showed their A-10 rivals they were a team with the ability to put a tough loss behind them and bring a hot streak of competitive play to the field in their next game.
After falling to the La Salle Explorers 4-0 Friday afternoon, GW faced off against Fordham Sunday, knowing that they needed to improve their defense across the board in order to avoid allowing cheap goals.
But the Colonials once again found themselves on the losing end of competition Sunday, dropping a heartbreaking 2-1 game that, nevertheless, improved greatly on Friday’s play.
“We played really well. This is a big improvement, especially from Friday. We brought the energy, we defended well, we attacked well. We were very unlucky that we didn’t get a result. It’s very unfortunate,” senior Seth Rudolph said.
The Colonials dropped a 4-0 game to La Salle Friday in an effort that saw significant breakdowns on both the offensive and defensive end of play. GW managed only five shots on goal in the loss.
In the first half of Sunday’s contest, most of the play was located in the middle of the field, with neither team successfully possessing the ball in the other’s zone. GW had only one corner kick and two shots on net in the first. And although Fordham tallied five shots in the first half, GW showed improvement from Friday on defense, tackling with conviction throughout the contest. Adding to the defensive effort was sophomore goalkeeper Luke Farrell, who had two saves in the half.
Still, head coach Craig Jones said the team’s lack of offensive spark and attack hampered its play in the first.
“I think that the one thing we didn’t do a good job of in the first half was again, being decisive in the final third, whether it’s a shot, a cross, a goal,” Jones said. “That was one of our big things at halftime. We had quite a bit of possession, but we need to be more penetrating with that possession.”
As they began the second half, the Colonials tried to utilize their coach’s advice and take the field with more intent in their attack. But Fordham, too, used the break to double down its focus, and GW gave up its first goal in the 57th minute, when a Fordham player headed the ball off of a free kick over Farrell’s head.
GW responded immediately, gathering the ball and weaving down the field to attack the Rams net. Senior Zach Abaie crossed the ball to junior Tyler Ranalli, who shot and hit the cross bar. Then, freshman Dominic Gallelli took a shot, which the Fordham goalkeeper pushed away from the net. As the excitement mounted, Rudolph gathered the ball and buried it in the back of the net, tying the game less than a minute after the Fordham tally and netting his fifth goal on the season.
“That [series of plays] just showed our tenacity and fight today. It showed how we’re coming together as a group, that we’re working hard,” Rudolph said. “Even after getting scored on, we immediately came back ready to play, attacked and got that goal back.”
The score remained tied until the very end of the game, with both teams fighting to break ahead of the gridlocked battle. But with just over a minute of play remaining, Fordham scored again off a corner kick, bringing the score to 2-1. Frantically, the Colonials hoped to repeat their quick response to the Rams’ first goal, but they were unable to score again, and ultimately fell by a single goal after a hard-fought competition.
The result was disappointing, but the Colonials were not disappointed in their overall performance. GW posted a total of nine shots, and Farrell recorded five saves.
Overally, the team’s effort dramatically improved from Friday’s game, Farrell said, especially on the defensive end.
“I think our defensive shape, especially, today was much better than Friday. I think we got closer to people and gave them less time to make decisions. We made it very hard for them to play the ball, and I think for almost all of the game we did a great job, and I think going forward, it’s really going to help us win some games,” Farrell said.