Men’s soccer splits pair of conference games against UMass, St. Bonaventure

Media Credit: File Photo by Auden Yurman | Senior Photo Editor

GW now sits in ninth place in the conference, a top-10 standing that would secure a first-round bye in the A-10 Championship next month.

Men’s soccer lost against UMass and won against St. Bonaventure this past week in their final push for the optimal playoff position in the Atlantic 10 Championship.

The Colonials (6-5-2) fell 4–1 to the Minutemen (6-0-5) Wednesday with limited scoring chances and a goalkeeping breakdown but fought back up the A-10 standings in their 3–0 victory over the Bonnies (3-7-2) Saturday. GW now sits in ninth place in the conference, a top-10 standing that would secure a first-round bye in the championship if the Colonials can close out their A-10 slate without a late-season slide before the end of October.

Here is a summary of the weekend matches:

Game 1: 
Men’s soccer lost its second straight home game 4–1 to the UMass Minutemen in a wet Wednesday matchup at the Mount Vernon Campus field.

After putting up only five shots on target against Duquesne last weekend, GW aimed to overwhelm their opponents offensively. They finished the game with an outstanding 20 shots compared to their 12.3 shot-per-game average, but the Colonials only notched one point on the scoresheet while Minutemen junior forward Alec Hughes led UMass to a win with three goals of his own.

The Minutemen’s high press kept GW from maintaining possession throughout the game. The Colonials took offensive risks going forward, but could overcome Minutemen goalkeeper Matt Zambetti who came up big, saving all five shots on target in the game. UMass’ precise finishing made the difference, netting four goals from just six shots on target.

The Minutemen took an early lead in the sixth minute of the game after Hughes’ shot from outside the box snuck by GW senior goalkeeper Justin Grady. The Colonials looked to get a goal of their own, missing two corner kicks and an off-target shot by senior wingback Elias Norris.

Just 10 minutes after the first goal, GW defender Jarred Demott played the ball back to Grady, who attempted to clear it but unexpectedly met Hughes, who deflected it in for his second goal of the match.

GW switched formations from a 5-2-3 to a 3-5-2, leaving three defenders in the back and throwing numbers forward with hopes of getting back in the game with a stronger attack.

Norris cut the lead to 2-1 in the 30th minute after getting past a pair of Minutemen defenders and finding the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season.

But GW’s hopes for a comeback were short-lived – Hughes found his hat trick in the 35th minute from a long throw-in that Grady saved, but it rebounded perfectly for Hughes to tap in for a 3–1 lead. Sophomore goalkeeper Richard Raupp subbed in at goal for Justin Grady, who seems to continue to struggle after a recent hamstring injury from the game against James Madison late last month.

The first half closed with UMass leading 3-1. Neither team showed real dominance in the half, but the Minutemen were able to make their chances count to create a decisive lead that would go untouched.

GW continued its offensive pressure into the second half, but Minutemen junior forward Nick Zielonka ruined any last hopes for a GW comeback with a goal coming off an open volley in the win. The Minutemen took a more defensive approach for the rest of the game and looked to keep the score and see out the win. Picking up 14 fouls and three yellow cards in the second half, UMass refused to let the Colonials score.

The match ended 4-1, and the loss ranked GW at second-to-last place in the conference above St. Bonaventure. For the Minutemen, the victory marks their first A-10 win of the season and breaks a three-game streak of ties.

Game 2: 
The Colonials’ second A-10 game of the week opened with a scoreless first half. GW compiled four shots on goal to St. Bonaventure’s eight. The Colonials shot at a .188 clip with a .375 shot-on-goal percentage throughout the game.

Junior defender Aaron Kronenberg scored GW’s first goal of the game – his fifth of the year – in the 58th minute, coming off an assist from senior attacker Tom Cooklin. The Colonials found their second score 11 minutes later when Cooklin once again set up a shot – this time junior defender Lucas Matuszewski fired the goal for his first of the year to extend the lead 2–0.

GW netted its final score of the night in the 72nd minute when Cooklin notched his third assist, crossing the ball to Norris, who scored his sixth goal of the season and finished the match with a 3–0 lead. Rupp, who stood at goal, faced six shots in his fourth shootout of the season keeping a clean sheet in his 2022 tenure.

The Colonials will travel to take on Saint Louis on Saturday, kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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