Heads hung, players trudged towards the bench. A team meeting lasted upwards of 20 minutes. Players – teammates – remained on the field even after that, going over the mistakes they had made, reluctant to leave the field and accept what had just happened on it.
At the hands of a Saint Joseph’s team that ranked tied for last place in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings, the Colonials fell 3-1, suffering what could easily be their worst loss of a season that has them clinging to playoff hopes.
Head coach Craig Jones couldn’t find any positives in the loss.
“We pressed the self destruct button. It’s probably one of the worst games I’ve been involved in,” Jones said.
The Colonials were looking to snap a two game losing streak with a win against a vulnerable team in the cellar of the conference rankings. But miscommunication and a lack of aggressiveness doomed the Colonials, putting their postseason hopes in jeopardy.
Entering the game, the Colonials were tied for eighth in the league, at eight points, with Dayton, while Saint Joseph’s was tied for 11th with Rhode Island. Only the top eight teams will make the conference playoffs, and with only one regular season game remaining, GW may find themselves out of the picture unless they win Sunday or the right teams lose.
The defining moment of the game was a goal in the sixth minute of the second half. Faced with an oncoming Hawk controlling the ball, goalie Luke Farrell and defender Abdul Shaban got their signals crossed about who would cover the ball. A split second of indecision later, and the Hawk’s forward was behind them both, easily tapping the ball into an empty net to give Saint Joseph’s a commanding 2-0 lead.
Jones called the play a “disaster” and a “sucker-punch,” saying his team never recovered from it.
“It seemed that Luke came out and Abdul was expecting him to stay in and they just got their wires crossed and it was a killer blow for us,” he said.
It was a strange error from Farrell, who going into the game ranked fourth in the conference with a .91 goals-against average in conference games this year.
Farrell said his confidence still isn’t shaken.
“We can still get the job done on Sunday,” Farrell said. “I feel good. We all talked about it, we talked about the problems that we had and how to fix them so I think we know what we have to do.”
Farrell didn’t get much support from the offense, which continued to play without any strong punch. The Colonials managed just seven shots in the entire game, only two of which required saves from the Saint Joseph’s goalie.
“There’s a reluctance to take shots and a reluctance to get forward. When you’re not getting numbers forward and you’re not taking shots you’re not going to score,” Jones said.
The lone goal for GW came with just a minute and a half remaining in the game. Junior Farhan Khan drilled in a goal to the bottom right corner of the box past a diving goalie on an assist from freshmen Jopus Grevelink and Miles McClearn.
The resilience of the freshman, especially, is encouraging for the Colonials, but it highlights the absence of strong veteran play for the team. Senior forward Tyler Ranalli is ranked sixth in the A-10 with seventeen points on the season, but he has failed to score in conference play.
GW has scored just twice in its last three games.
“You expect your older group to step up in games like that, but unfortunately they couldn’t quite find the game today, some of those players,” Jones said.
The Colonials last game of the regular season comes on Sunday against A-10 No. 4 La Salle.
“We had destiny in our own hands. If we won two we we were definitely in [the championships], so now we’re going to have to rely on other results working in our favor and trying to bounce back and get a win on Sunday,” Jones said. “Maybe we will approach the game differently, maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves to win the game, maybe that was part of the reason. I’m really at a loss right now as to how we did perform today.”