Men's Soccer Opens 2006 Season This Weekend
Aug. 23, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC - The George Washington men's soccer team kicks off the 2006 season this weekend with two matches in the sixth annual DC College Cup, which will be held at Reeves Field on the campus of American University. The Colonials will square off against Georgetown in the tournament's opening game at 2:30 pm on Friday, August 25. GW will then battle Howard at 2:30 pm on Sunday, August 27.
The DC College Cup features the four Division I soccer programs in the District. Each team will play two matches with the champion to be determined by a point system based on wins and draws. In the event of a tie, the champion will be crowned using a tie-breaking formula that includes head-to-head meetings as well as goal differential. In addition to the GW/Georgetown match on Friday and the GW/Howard contest on Sunday, American will meet Howard at approximately 5:00 pm on Friday and host Georgetown at approximately 5:00 pm on Sunday to round out the tournament slate.
The Colonials return 12 letterwinners and four starters from last season's 6-8-3 squad. Earlier this week, GW was picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Coaches' poll. The top six teams in the league standings qualify for the A-10 Championship, which will be held at Transamerica Field in Charlotte, NC, this November. Honorable mention All-Atlantic 10 selection Abimbola Pedro and A-10 All-Rookie teamer Michael Rollings will front the Colonials offense, while team co-captains Matt Davis and Jeremiah Burke will lead the defense. Head coach George Lidster is also counting on a talented 14-player freshman class to make significant contributions across the pitch.
Georgetown was chosen to finish sixth in the Big East's Blue Division in the league's preseason poll released on August 10. The Hoyas posted a 10-9-1 final record last fall, including a pair of 1-0 shutout victories versus Howard and American to claim the newly christened Craig Tartasky Trophy, which is awarded to the champion of the DC College Cup. First-year head coach Brian Wiese returns 17 letterwinners from the Hoyas' 2005 roster and welcomes one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Howard tied for second place in the Atlantic Soccer Conference last season with a 3-2-1 mark, but struggled with a 0-7-1 mark in non-conference action. The Bison return all five of their point scorers from last fall, including leading scorer Lamar Hyde. GW blanked Howard, 3-0, to finish in second place in the 2005 Cup standings with four points.
GW is 5-4-1 in the five-year history of the event, but has yet to win the tournament title. The Colonials finished runner-up to Georgetown last fall and American in 2001. GW holds a 20-9-4 edge in the all-time series versus Georgetown, but has split its two meetings with the Hoyas in the DC College Cup. GW trails Howard in the all-time series, 11-18-4, but is 4-1 against the Bison in Cup action.
The following is a position-by-position season outlook for the 2006 GW men's soccer team:
If recent history holds true, the George Washington men's soccer team could be in for another dramatic run at an Atlantic 10 title and the program's seventh NCAA Tournament bid. In 2002 and 2004, it was the fusion of experienced upperclassmen and talented, hungry rookies that sparked the Colonials to spirited late-season runs through the A-10 Championship en route to the NCAA postseason. Head coach George Lidster, in his 19th season at the University, may once again have that recipe for success as he hopes that 14 newcomers can gel with 12 returning letterwinners and restore GW to prominence in 2006.
Siegel, one of only two seniors on the 2006 roster, is the active leading scorer for the Colonials with 20 points in his first three seasons. He has, however, been plagued by injuries during his career and has yet to flash his full potential, according to Lidster. Set to join Siegel in the middle attack is Stuber, who has increased his contributions in each of his first two seasons.
Pedro went from walk-on to honorable mention All-Atlantic 10 performer in leading the Colonials with 11 points and four goals last fall. Lidster expects this "diamond in the rough" to make an even bigger splash in 2006.
Rollings, a lightning-fast striker, made a quick adjustment to the Division I game, totaling nine points and four assists to earn All-Rookie Team accolades. His two-goal effort was the difference against regular-season co-champ Saint Louis last October and should serve as a warning to opponents that his speed and skill should not be overlooked.
High school regional All-American and preseason All-Rookie Team member Andrew Stadler completes Lidster's list of offensive weapons. Stadler will look to duplicate his scholastic scoring prowess in which he totaled a whopping 198 points in four seasons.
Junior Greg McKay may be the lone returning starter to the Colonials' midfield, but Lidster has a flood of players capable of running opponents ragged. A total of 12 players, four returnees and eight newcomers, will have the chance to earn playing time in the middle.
McKay played in every match last fall, contributing three goals and two helpers to a midfield that led the A-10 in assists. He will be counted on to lead Lister's large, talented midfield corps.
Fellow juniors Joachim Walker and David McConaghay and sophomore David Leon all gained valuable experience in 2005, combining for 33 appearances, 12 starts and six points. Walker and McConaghay have the speed and stamina to man the flanking midfield spots, while Leon's versatility allows him to play both inside and outside slots.
Leading the list of rookies who can make an immediate impact are Kyle Albrecht, Erick Perez-Segnini and Luke Wildy. Albrecht comes to Foggy Bottom from local power DeMatha Catholic, where his strong passing ability and free-kick skills led the Stags to a No. 2 national ranking. Perez-Segnini is another local talent who brings significant one-on-one skill and a goal-scoring mentality to the midfield. Wildy, an experienced playmaker from England, should also see plenty of time in the central midfield.
Newcomers Juan Arreaza, George Garcia and Andrew Kroculick will test the junior trio of Leon, Walker and McConaghay on the flanks, while preseason A-10 All-Rookie teamer Mike Briscoe and Will Doar will battle for time at defensive midfield.
Good results typically stem from strong defensive play, as witnessed by GW's 15-4-5 overall record when surrendering one goal or fewer the past two seasons. The cornerstones of that defense, senior Jeremiah Burke and junior Matt Davis, return determined to prove the adage "defense wins championships." For Burke, who has missed 14 matches over the last two seasons due to injury, the ability to remain healthy and fit will be key.
Davis, the only returnee to start every match he played last fall, was named to the All-Tournament team at the 2005 DC College Cup, an event in which the Colonials have outscored their opponents 9-2 over the past two years.
Three newcomers will add some much needed depth to the back line, a luxury Lidster did not have in 2005. Local northern Virginia products Nikolay Aleksandrov and Mike Holland and New Yorker Byron Walker will undoubtedly see action, especially Aleksandrov, who has a wealth of experience in the U.S. and abroad.
After seeing limited action as a freshman and split duties with Derek Biss as a sophomore, Greg Yahr becomes the likely starter in net for coach Lidster entering his junior season. An intimidating shot-stopper, Yahr also has the size and strength to thwart aerial attacks. Also vying for time in goal is classmate Matt Scheer, a gifted net-minder who has studied behind Biss in his first two years. Newcomers Scott Goossens and Daniel Huey round out the goalkeeping rotation.