Updated: Oct. 19, 2018 at 10:51 a.m.
Women’s soccer will need to secure wins in its final contests to clinch its sixth consecutive postseason berth.
The Colonials (9–6–1, 5–3–0 A-10) are currently in seventh place in the conference, but only the top eight squads in the league advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship. Dayton and La Salle, the eighth and ninth place competitors, respectively, are in position to bump GW out of the top eight in the league.
The Colonials will face off against Davidson – a team with no conference wins this season – Thursday, and Saint Louis – the league leaders with no conference losses this season – to close out their regular season Sunday.
Dayton (3–4–1 A-10) and La Salle (3–5–0 A-10) both also have a pair of games left before the postseason. The Flyers will go head-to-head with Richmond (1–6–1 A-10) before facing Massachusetts (5–2–1 A-10), and La Salle will play George Mason (6–2–0 A-10) and VCU (7–1–0).
If GW wins both of its upcoming games, the Colonials’ A-10 record will be enough to comfortably secure a spot in the postseason. But if GW loses the next two games and both the Flyers and the Rams win their final games, Dayton would move up to seventh place with a 5–4–1 record while the Colonials and the Rams would be tied with a 5–5–0 record.
A head-to-head tiebreaker would favor La Salle over GW in the eighth-place spot.
If all three teams split their final games, the current A-10 rankings will still stand and GW will coast into the postseason in the seventh spot.
Head coach Michelle Demko said when preparing for games, the team does not focus on what part of the season it is, but rather on what they can do to get points on the table.
“When we prepare for opponents, whether it’s early in the season, late in the season – it doesn’t really matter,” Demko said. “We will talk about the other opponent’s tendencies and personnel for a little bit, but then it just becomes about us.”
The team enters the last games of the season coming off an overtime win in the 99th minute over Dayton, a triumph Demko said was huge for the team to build momentum and confidence.
Sophomore midfielder Natalie Silberman was able to find the back of the net in overtime for the Colonials, tallying her second game-winning goal this season.
“Now we have motivation to just go forward and come up with a win,” Silberman said.
The Colonials have seen extra minutes three times this season, including a 2–1 win over Liberty in August and a draw against Maryland in September. Tuesday was the first time this season the team had gone into overtime against a conference opponent.
“It’s exciting for us,” senior forward Sofia Pavon said. “Making sure that we can keep going past 90 minutes was great for us.”
Pavon leads the Colonials with a team-high 15 points on the season. She has clocked at least one point in four of the last five games, with her assist to Silberman against Dayton marking a career-high five on the season. Silberman follows closely behind her with 10 points on the season, including four goals and two assists.
The Colonials have also seen success on the defensive end with senior goalkeeper Anna Tapen tallying 84 saves and six shutouts on the season.
“As a team, we’ve just made it work,” Silberman said. “We’ve gotten better playing together.”
GW and Davidson have yet to meet this season, but the series history will sit even at 1–1–1 when the teams take the field Thursday. The Colonials’ last match against the team ended in a scoreless draw at Davidson.
GW’s biggest test of the year comes in its season closer against Saint Louis. The Billikens are 8–0 in A-10 play with a 13–3–1 record overall. Last season, the Colonials dropped 1–0 to Saint Louis after conceding a goal in the 89th minute.
“Every game is just a game in terms of we want to win, we need to win,” Pavon said. “That’s true for all A-10 games we play in the past and we’re going to play in the future.”
Even with a tournament spot on the line, Demko said her team will approach the next few games no differently than they have others this season.
“In terms of A-10 play, or even nonconference play for that matter, it just becomes about consistency,” Demko said. “We’re just focusing on winning right now.”
The Colonials play their penultimate conference match when they host Davidson Thursday at 3 p.m.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that women’s soccer will need to win both of its final games to secure a spot in the A-10 Championship. The team only needs one win to advance. We regret this error.