On Senior Day, it was a freshman who came up big for men’s soccer Saturday.
Freshman midfielder Peirce Williams came off the bench and scored the only goal of the match as the Colonials (8-6-2, 5-2-0 A-10) edged out Duquesne (3-11-1, 1-5 A-10) in a closely fought contest.
The 1–0 victory moved GW up to first place in the Atlantic 10 and clinched a spot in the conference tournament.
Williams notched his third goal of the season in the 54th minute after senior midfielder Koby Osei-Wusu ran at the Duquesne backline and lifted the ball to his teammate. Williams got to the pass a split-second before Dukes goalkeeper Robbie McKelvey and nudged the ball into the back of the net.
“I was just really happy to cause something to happen,” Williams said. “I love to do it for my captains and all the seniors. It’s a game to celebrate them so I’m glad I was able to contribute.”
The Colonials nearly added two more goals in the second half.
When junior forward Dylan Lightbourn was fouled in the penalty area, Osei-Wusu stepped up to take the kick – but his effort hit the outside of the post and bounced clear.
GW hit woodwork again just five minutes later, when sophomore midfielder Drini Redzepi cut inside onto his right foot and took a shot. The ball beat McKelvey and Redzepi began to celebrate. But to the Colonials’ surprise, the ball bounced off of the inside of the post and ran along the goalline before being cleared by a Dukes defender.
While the Colonials found success later in the match, they struggled to build momentum at the start of the game.
Their defenders rarely looked comfortable, consistently being caught out of position by opposing pressure. Even when they didn’t have the ball taken from them, GW’s backline made numerous errors, giving Duquesne opportunities to score.
“They were putting some really good pressure on us, not letting us play in the spots we usually do,” senior midfielder Oliver Curry said. “When we went into the halftime break, we told each other ‘Look, let’s play a little bit quicker,’ and when we started doing that they were a little slower getting to the ball.”
Despite opportunities in both halves, Duquesne failed to convert throughout the afternoon. Although the Dukes only took 12 shots to GW’s 17, many of them were quality chances from inside the penalty area.
Junior goalkeeper Thor Arne Höfs had a busy afternoon, making seven saves.
“In the first half when we weren’t playing well, he came up with some big saves to keep it at 0-0,” head coach Craig Jones said. “When he hits form, he’s one of the best keepers we’ve had here at GW.”
Duquesne head coach Chase Brooks brought on forwards Jallah Acqui and Zion Beaton in the second half – a move that led to multiple scoring chances.
In the 67th minute, a move from Acqui down the right side gave him space to fire in a cross that Beaton shot over the bar. A minute later, Beaton worked space for himself down the right side but his low cross went across the face of the goal without a Dukes player to finish.
Just as his team was building energy, Dukes freshman defender Erik Espinoza Jr. went in with a hard tackle against GW sophomore forward Alexy Boehm. Fans and players alike were screaming at the refferee to show Espinoza a straight red, but he received a yellow card instead.
Espinoza was eventually sent off with less than five minutes remaining after getting penalized with a second yellow card.
The Colonials will return to action at St. Joseph’s Oct. 28 for their final game of the regular season. With a win, they would clinch home field advantage in the postseason.