Men’s soccer aims for conference playoff berth despite struggling this season

Media Credit: Serena Lum | Photographer

Although the Colonials are outshooting their opponents on average in games, they have converted on fewer than one goal per game.

Men’s soccer is seeking to squeeze their way into the playoffs after a lackluster season so far.

The Colonials (3-9-2, 1-3-1 A-10) have lost four out of their last five games, earning just one tie through two halves of overtime against Massachusetts Oct. 9. GW currently sits at No. 11 in the A-10 standings, and the Colonials must win at least two of their last three conference games for a chance to earn the No. 8 seed in the A-10 Tournament.

Head coach Craig Jones said the team has “underperformed” in terms of their expectations before the season began. After vastly exceeding their No. 11 preseason rank last year and reaching the conference final, the Colonials came in with a No. 6 ranking heading into this season.

“We could have won more games than we have,” Jones said. “We’ve deserved to win more games but that’s just soccer so I think our record deceives the group a little bit or deceives others in terms of I think we’re better than what our record is.”

The Colonials have struggled to score goals down the stretch, netting just two goals in the past five games. Though the team has outshot their opponents in games on average 12-11, they have a goals per game average of just .86 compared to their opponents’ 1.43.

“We’re lacking that little bit of confidence,” Jones said. “When you’re not winning games, you lack confidence to get in the box and score goals. So I think for us, we’ve got to be a little bit more committed to get numbers forward. We’re creating chances, we just need to have a little bit of quality but if we weren’t creating chances it’s a much bigger problem.”

In addition to the offensive woes, the Colonials have suffered defensive troubles as well. Last year, the Colonials conceded just five goals in the regular season through eight games. During this season, GW has given up 20 goals through 14 games. However, graduate student midfielder Sandro Weber said the team has improved in recent weeks as the Colonials have only conceded three goals to conference foes in the past three conference games.

“I think defensively, we made a pretty good job in the last couple of games,” Weber said. “So we conceded a lot of goals, unnecessary goals, in the middle of the season. And that was one of our strengths last season in the spring, that we had a great defense. We couldn’t really rely on that in the middle of the season, but we’ve made progress with that.”

Senior midfielder Cameron Mathewson, now in his fourth year with the team, said the team is a “very close-knit” group and believes “100 percent” that the team can rally to get the job done and make the playoffs.

“The team’s had some good moments so far this season, but also we’ve had some unfortunate moments,” Mathewson said. “We want to obviously improve and get into the tournament. The last three games, we’ve got to take it.”

Despite the unsteady season, Jones said he can still rely on the team to stick together when the times are tough. Bolstered by the return of all 24 players on last year’s roster and the addition of three freshmen recruits, the team has experienced and persevered through a lot of hardship together.

“Our biggest strength has probably been our team cohesion,” Jones said. “When we’re down and I’ve had teams in the past where maybe when things don’t go so well. You can start disintegrating and then picking on each other a little bit. But even when we haven’t played well, we stuck together. When we won, we stuck together.”

With three games left to play, the Colonials will have to turn their season around quickly for a bid into the A-10 tournament. Jones said he is “confident” the team can do what it needs to do to get in, especially with the next two games at home.

“Once you get into the tournament it’s anybody’s game,” Jones said. “It’s just you’re winning to keep playing so I think for us now the hardest part is going to be to get in, but once we’re in I think we’re more than capable of going as far as we want to go.”

The Colonials will return to the Vern after a two game road swing against George Mason Wednesday. Kick off is slated for 1 p.m.

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