Men’s soccer takes home first game of the season

Men’s soccer notched a victory against VMI in their home opener Thursday night.

GW took the lead just 66 seconds into the game, courtesy of a tap-in finish from graduate student forward Oscar Haynes-Brown.

The Colonials (1-0) defeated the Keydets (0-1) as a brace from Haynes-Brown and a pair of assists from both junior defender Ryan Cedeno and junior midfielder Tom Cooklin paved the way for a 4–0 rout. A thunderstorm forced the game to be abandoned with just under 12 minutes remaining, but GW will still be credited with the win.

The Colonials dominated the game offensively, firing 19 shots compared to the Keydets’ three as head coach Craig Jones’ side pinned their opponents back for much of the match.

“We could have done some things a little bit better but then we did some things very very well,” Jones said. “So look, it’s a clean sheet, a win to start the season, whether we’re 10 minutes short, who cares? We got the win, the result counts.”

GW’s early goal came off a connection between Haynes-Brown and Cedeno. The scoring move began with a throw-in on the left sideline, and the Colonials worked the ball across the field until Cedeno found room to send the ball into the box.

Cedeno fired a pass across the face of the goal, and after a deflection off a Keydets’ defender, Haynes-Brown smashed the ball into the roof of the net for a 1–0 lead.

VMI struggled with possession, often stalling in the midfield or resorting to long balls that gave junior goalkeeper Justin Grady little reason for alarm.

The Colonials fashioned another chance down the right hand side when Haynes-Brown drew a free kick just outside the area. GW took it quickly, opening up a shooting chance for Cooklin at the top of the box, but the midfielder flashed his low drive a few yards wide of the target.

GW’s momentum in the midfield grew as a passing combination between Cooklin and Haynes Brown released graduate student midfielder Sandro Weber through on goal, but he flashed the chance wide, allowing the Keydets to breathe a momentary sigh of relief.

The Colonials added to their lead in the 32nd minute, again from the right side of the pitch. GW passed the ball around the VMI’s half and Cedeno found himself in a pocket of space on the right wing.

Cedeno whipped in a cross toward freshman forward Nico Krueger who met it with a crashing header for the first goal of his collegiate career.

“It was a great feeling,” Cedeno said. “It was the first two assists of my career so it got me really fired up. I put in a really good ball and Nico and Oscar both did well to get on the end of it and help me finalize that assist.”

The Colonials started the second half on a similar note to the first, scoring off a quick strike in the 47th minute to gain a commanding 3–0 advantage. GW worked the ball down the right side yet again as junior midfielder Elias Norris slotted a pass into the feet of Haynes-Brown inside the box.

The English native flicked the ball around a Keydet defender with a deft first touch and snuck the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.

“Yeah I mean it was good, it was a really hot day but to get four goals in the first game of the season is good,” Haynes-Brown said. “We can definitely improve on it, we could have had five or six even though there was the stoppage.”

The Colonials kept their foot on the gas throughout the game. With 23 minutes remaining, Cooklin put junior midfielder Carlyle Smart in on goal who executed a calm finish beyond the reach of the goalkeeper for his first career goal and the final score of the game.

Several moments later, sophomore midfielder Tim Neumann tried his luck with a powerful strike from 20 yards out, forcing a fingertip save over the bar from Keydet senior goalkeeper Broden Schull for a corner kick. Graduate student defender Hrolfur Sveinsson connected on a header off the corner but his attempt hit the side netting.

GW maintained its dominance over the game with less than 15 minutes to play as Cooklin ripped a shot, forcing another diving fingertip save to push his effort wide.

A downpour intervened before GW could find a fifth goal, but the Colonials still took home the victory. Cedeno said the win was a “great start” to the season.

“The team energy was great, we’re playing well, we’re fit, we’re looking good out there,” Cedeno said. “So the team is excited, we’re happy, we’ll take this win and go on to the next one.”

The Colonials will look to collect their second win of the season on Aug. 30 against Howard. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.

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