GW Men's Soccer Hosts Lehigh in Exhibition Opener on Thursday Afternoon
Aug. 15, 2012
WASHINGTON - The George Washington men's soccer team will play a pair of exhibition matches this week in preparation for its 2012 season opener against Long Island on Aug. 24. The Colonials kick off their preseason competition on Thursday at 4 p.m., when they welcome Lehigh to the GW Soccer Field on the Mount Vernon Campus, before visiting 23rd-ranked Old Dominion on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Colonials return to the pitch on Thursday following nine days of preseason training. GW will take the field for the first time under head coach Craig Jones, a 1999 alumnus and long-time assistant coach who took over at the helm following the retirement of the program's all-time winningest head coach and 2011 Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year George Lidster.
"I think our two preseason games will be a real test for our guys, and it will give our newcomers a good taste for college soccer," Coach Jones said. "It will be great to see where we are as a group as we move forward into the season."
Picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, the Colonials return 14 letterwinners and six starters from last season's squad, which posted a 10-6-3 overall record and 7-2-0 conference mark to claim a share of the A-10 regular-season crown before falling to Xavier on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw in the title match. GW also welcomes a large incoming class of nine freshmen and two transfers.
The Colonials will be led by senior forward Seth Rudolph, an A-10 First-Team All-Conference selection in 2011 who ranked fifth in the league with eight goals. Rudolph, senior goalkeeper Alejandro Almodovar and junior forward Tyler Ranalli were named team captains on Tuesday.
Despite scoring just 18 goals in 18 games last season, Lehigh finished third in the Patriot League standings with an 8-4-6 overall record thanks to one of the nation's best defenses. Led by Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year Ciaran Nugent, the Mountain Hawks allowed just eight goals in 18 games and posted a league-best 11 shutouts, recording the third-best goals-against average in the NCAA (0.41).
GW is 1-2-0 all-time against Lehigh, but the teams have not met since 2006, a 2-0 victory for the visiting Mountain Hawks.
Ranked 23rd in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll, Old Dominion returns 10 starters from last year's 12-6-2 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Monarchs boasted the second-best offense in the nation in 2011, averaging 2.4 goals per game, and they welcome back four all-conference honorees, including third-team All-American Yannick Smith, who scored a league-high 16 goals. ODU is the preseason favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Association.
While the Colonials and Monarchs met in an exhibition match last season - a narrow 1-0 victory for visiting ODU - the teams have not faced off during the regular season since 1998. ODU holds a 4-1-0 advantage in the series.