Defensive errors lead to home opener loss for men’s soccer

Media Credit: Julia Abriola | Staff Photographer

Senior forward Christian Lawal splits two William and Mary defenders during Tuesday afternoon's men's soccer game. The Colonials lost to the Tribe 2–1.

Following 69 scoreless minutes between men’s soccer and William and Mary Tuesday afternoon, both sides found the scoreboard in the span of four minutes.

With nine minutes to go in the game, the Colonials turned the ball over in their defensive half and the Tribe took advantage. William and Mary junior midfielder Antonio Bustamante sent a through ball to teammate Ryder Bell who finished with his left foot into the right side of the net.

The Tribe maintained their lead for the remainder of the match and GW (1-3-0) dropped its home opener 2–1.

“We played well in spells, it just came down to some crucial moments in the game where we weren’t really focused enough and our concertation slipped,” senior forward Christian Lawal said. “Unfortunately, they punished us with two goals today.”

The Colonials were outshot 16-4 and junior goalkeeper Thor Arne Höfs made four saves on the day.

After the game, head coach Craig Jones said that his team – namely the returning starters – need to make fewer errors if they want to start winning games.

“We made mistakes, individual mistakes, defensive mistakes and we give the other team goals,” Jones said. “We want our upperclassmen to see us through games and they are the ones that are making mistakes.”

The energy of the game was plagued on both sides by the scorching heat on the turf playing surface. Jones said some of the problems on the back line may have come in part because of the additional fatigue.

“You don’t want to make too many changes to your back line because it can disrupt stuff,” he said. “Those are the guys that end up not getting the breaks that they might need and they get tired.”

GW began by playing several long balls over and around the opponent’s defense, looking for junior forward Dylan Lightbourn to make runs. As the game pushed on, both sides moved to a less direct approach, playing the ball through the middle more often.

“Neither team in the first half looked like they really wanted to score goals,” Jones said. “It became almost like watching a ping pong match.”

Despite a couple early corner kicks for GW, the first good scoring chance came for William and Mary in the 18th minute. A ball sent from 30 yards out found the head of a Tribe forward, but he didn’t score.

Just one minute later Lightbourn had one of the game’s best opportunities after senior midfielder Oliver Curry laid a pass back inside the box. The Bahamas native’s shot flew just over the crossbar.

Freshman midfielder Brady O’Connor followed that up with a shot of his own inside William and Mary’s 18-yard box. His effort was deflected out for another corner kick.

Four minutes before the halftime whistle, freshman forward Oscar Haynes Brown got a breakaway against only one other defender. The ball was deflected out for a corner which found the head of Lawal. Lawal was penalized on a push before he could do anything and was given a yellow card for swearing at the referee a minute later.

Coming out of the break 0–0, GW was off to a slow to start. The first five minutes were played largely in the Colonials half with the Tribe on the attack.

Freshman Oscar Haynes Brown broke the scoreless tie when he finished a wide open shot after a pass from sophomore midfielder Drini Redzepi and a couple touches got him around the Tribe goalkeeper. The goal was the first of Haynes Brown’s career in his first appearance.

William and Mary quickly countered with a goal of their own in the 73rd minute as senior midfielder William Eskay found the back of the net.

“We started the second half pretty poorly I thought, so maybe we were a little lucky to go up 1-0 anyway,” Jones said. “But to gift them two goals that’s disappointing for me – it’s not acceptable to be honest.”

After more than a week off, the Colonials return to action in Annapolis where they will take on Navy (0-3-0) next Wednesday at 7 p.m.

“We want to give the guys a little bit of a break, it has been tough going straight from preseason into these games,” Jones said. “We have got a lot to work on, we have got a lot of pieces and we are not quite connecting those pieces yet.”

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