Strong goaltending has been a grounding force for men’s soccer, but former goalkeeper Thor Arne Höfs’ recent graduation threatened that stability.
Höfs’ departure leaves a hole for GW to fill for a team riddled with injury and inconsistency. After the team posted its worst conference record since 2010 and several players left the program this summer, the Colonials have their sights set on building back up to a competitive place.
The former goalkeeper logged 5,371 minutes between the pipes throughout his four years, and his career 264 saves ranks fourth in program history. In 2016, Höfs capped opponents to only 0.60 goals per game, compared to GW’s 1.11 goals per game that season.
Senior netminder Noah Lubin is on tap to replace Höfs as the squad’s starting goalkeeper but he has yet to see action, spending his two seasons with GW on the bench. He walked onto the team after spending his freshman campaign competing with the club soccer team.
Senior defender Reese Moore said Lubin has embraced the opportunity and the responsibility being goalkeeper brings, putting in extra hours outside of practice to prepare for game time.
“He’s really grown since he’s been here. As a player he’s much stronger, he’s fitter. This spring he had the best spring semester he’s ever had,” Moore said. “He looks very confident, and I think that game time and the passing of the mantle to him has allowed him to come out of his shell a little bit and become a leader.”
Head coach Craig Jones cited Lubin’s years on the bench as a strength for the senior because the time gave him a chance to observe the squad and become familiar with its play.
“The good thing is that Noah has been with us for two years now, so he knows the program,” Jones said. “He knows the system. He knows the back line,” Jones said.
Jones added that the program needs to recruit more players now that integral players like Höfs have left. Men’s soccer lost an additional five players this summer.
Last season, the squad struggled to limit their opponents’ opportunities in the box, allowing 14.3 shots per game while taking only 11.8 per game. The Colonials ended the season with a 5-9-3 overall record and went 1-5-2 in conference play, winning the least number of games in a season since 2013.
“Thor was great for the four years he was here on the field, but this is college athletics,” Jones said. “Guys graduate and move on, it’s our job as a program to recruit and to recruit guys that can step into those guys’ shoes.”
Of the 28 players on the Colonials’ 2019 roster, eight are newcomers.
Newly-recruited freshman Justin Grady, a four year varsity starter in high school, will also see time between the pipes this season, Jones said. He described the goaltender as “very highly-rated.”
“We’re a program where every incoming class has to have an impact,” Jones said. “If we don’t, then we’re not going to do well.”