From 13th to 1st: Berhanu's Winner Gives GW Men's Soccer A-10 Regular-Season Crown
Nov. 6, 2011
WASHINGTON - On his Senior Day, George Washington men's soccer midfielder Yoni Berhanu buried a 25-yard free kick in the 72nd minute to give the Colonials a 1-0 victory over Duquesne and a share of their first Atlantic 10 regular-season title since 1992.
GW (9-6-2), which finished 13th in the A-10 in 2010 and was picked in that same slot in the 2011 preseason coaches poll, shares the regular-season A-10 crown with Fordham, a 1-0 double-overtime victor over Temple on Sunday, with 21 points each and identical 7-2-0 league records.
The Rams will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming A-10 Championship at Saint Louis University's Robert R. Hermann Stadium Nov. 10-13, while the Colonials will be the No. 2 seed and earn a bye through to the semifinals. GW will play the highest remaining seeded team to advance past Thursday's quarterfinal action.
GW posted its fifth straight victory overall and fifth consecutive shutout at Mount Vernon Field as the backline of senior Mike Burke, junior Jamie LaFleur, sophomore Alex Sandland and freshman Matthew Scott didn't allow any of Duquesne's seven total shots to reach target nor test junior goalkeeper Brendan Lafferty. The Colonials have surrendered just one goal in their last five matches and Lafferty has decreased his goals-against average to 0.96.
The high-stakes, hard-fought match that had playoff implications for both teams featured a total of 33 fouls and three cautions, but it was the sublime free kick from Berhanu which provided the beauty in an otherwise gritty contest.
Duquesne committed one of its 20 fouls in dangerous position about 25 yards straight away from the GW goal. In a similar situation in Friday's victory against St. Bonaventure, Berhanu curled a right-footed shot around the wall only to have the goalkeeper make a spectacular diving save to prevent a goal. On Sunday though, Berhanu forever etched his name into Colonials soccer lore with a career-defining finish.
With just over 18 minutes remaining, Berhanu beat the wall with a bending right-footed shot that snuck in between the right post and the outstretched glove of Duquesne goalkeeper Colin Thorp, sending the Colonials into a wild celebration with the J Street Hooligans supporter group and the 545 fans, family and alumni in attendance.
GW dodged two Duquesne corner kicks over the final 18:10 and eventually secured the result to give head coach George Lidster his 200th career victory in his final match at the Mount Vernon facility that he helped make a reality. Lidster was doused with a celebratory water bucket as the Colonials celebrated their remarkable turnaround on the pitch, along with fans who had rushed the field.
Seniors Yoni Berhanu, Mike Burke, Brice Carr and Jake Davis were all recognized prior to their final home match, as was Coach Lidster, who was presented a signed jersey from many alumni players he coached during his 24 seasons, a framed team photo from the 2011 team and its captains, as well as a fishing rod and gear for his retirement plans from the GW Department of Athletics and Recreation.