GW Men's Soccer 2016 Season Outlook
Colonials Look to Seniors to Lead
WASHINGTON - After a Cinderella season in 2015 that saw the GW men's soccer team win the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, the Colonials turn to a group of experienced returners to carry momentum into 2016.
A year ago, the Colonials defied expectations and advanced to the A-10 Championship for the first time since 2011 after being picked to finish 10th in the 2015 A-10 preseason poll. No longer under the radar, the Colonials and reigning A-10 Coach of the Year Craig Jones look to remain atop the conference in Jones' fifth season at the helm.
The Buff and Blue will lean on a large group of upperclassmen to lead the squad to success once again this season. With a wealth of experience on each line, the Colonials aim to consistently play at a high level in 2016.
"Our senior group is an experienced group who have played a lot of minutes, so they’re really going to be the driving force behind our success this year," said Jones. "We've got seniors in each line and four senior captains, so we’re expecting a lot from everyone, but the success will really be about how this senior group can drive the team forward and lead the group in every aspect of competition. Not just on the field but off the field to set the tone and raise the bar higher."
With 18 returning letterwinners and 10 newcomers, the Colonials bring experience and depth across the pitch to the 2016 season.
GW opens the 2016 season on Friday, Aug. 26, at William and Mary for a 7 p.m. contest.
Sophomore Thor Arne Höfs is slated to be GW's top keeper after making seven starts and logging 630 minutes in his rookie season. The Fehmarn, Germany, native ranked fifth in the conference a year ago with 4.14 saves per game. Sophomore Jason Re and freshman Will Desautels will battle for the number two slot between the pipes this season.
"Thor is experienced and a great shot-stopper," said Jones. "Now he’s got a full year under his belt and his communication with the back four is a lot better. I think he’s going to have a good year. Will and Jason will be pushing Thor and battling for the number two spot."
The Colonials return a strong back like while adding depth and experience with newcomers. Senior captain Tobi Adewole will lead the defenders in his final year after landing on the A-10 All-Conference Second Team and earning NSCAA All-Midwest Region Third Team distinction a year ago. Adewole will be joined by classmate Sam Summerlin - a wide defender. Sophomore Jack Houston is also slated to be a key defender after logging 205 minutes as a rookie.
Senior transfer Ben Ogedegbe looks to make an immediate impact for the Colonials after spending three seasons at IUPUI and adds depth in the center back position. Freshman Gabriel Seemungal also aims to see minutes centrally, and classmate George Dise adds balance to the back line as a naturally left-footed player. Rookie Reese Moore will also be added to the mix of defenders, filling in where needed as a versatile player.
"Tobi will be a big presence for us this year," said Jones. "We’ve got a big transfer in Ben coming on for his first season after transferring in the spring, he certainly gives us options centrally. Gabriel comes in as a freshman in that central area coming from a good youth soccer background back in the UK, so centrally we’ve added some depth there. Then Sam returns as a wide defender and Jack returns for his sophomore year, another year stronger.
"We’ve added George - great left foot - to the mix as a freshman, which will give us some balance, and I think Reese can play anywhere on the back line, he’s versatile. I think we’ve added more cover and depth in our back line than we had last year."
GW returns a strong senior core to the midfield line, led by senior captains Garrett Heine, Spiros Tsakos, and Oliver De Thier, who each played over 1,000 minutes in 2015. Heine experienced a breakout junior campaign, leading the squad with nine goals and 22 points to grab All-Conference First Team and NSCAA All-Region Third Team honors. His six game-winning goals led the A-10 and ranked fifth nationally. A consistent force, De Thier was the only Colonial to start all 18 contests in 2015, and Angel Valencia rounds out an experienced senior group on the midfield line.
Junior Koby Osei-Wusu led GW with five assists in 2015 and will continue to make an impact in 2016 after making 14 starts at midfield a year ago. Classmate Oliver Curry is also expected to be a key piece to the midfield line as longs he stays healthy.
"This year we return four of our central midfield players - those guys played significant minutes over the last two years, so that’s probably an area where we feel strongest right now," said Jones. "We’ve also added to that with Colin Anderson, who could come in and play there. Garrett returns out wide after a great year last year and Angel also played out wide. Curry – we’ll be expecting more from him this year. The last two years he’s been a little unlucky with injuries, but he scored some great goals, so if we can keep him healthy I think he’ll have a similar junior year to what Garrett had. And then we’ve added some freshmen who given some time can certainly contribute this year in Drini and Cameron."
Junior Christian Lawal will serve as GW's main threat up front after earning 2015 A-10 All-Confernce Second Team honors as a sophomore with four goals and 11 points. Sophomore Dylan Lightbourn posted a strong preseason and is expected to see an increase in minutes in 2016, and senior Alex Portela will also be in the mix of forwards. Sophomore Max Lerner joined the squad during the spring semester and will embark on his first season as a Colonial.
"We’ve really been happy with Dylan, I think his freshman year was a big learning curve for him but certainly in preseason he’s looked sharp," said Jones. "He’s looked stronger and he’s making more intelligent runs off the ball. I think he’ll see a big increase in his minutes this year. We also have Christian Lawal, he’s probably going to be our go-to guy. Portela will likely also share some of the workload. Then we have Max Lerner - it’ll take him a little while to adjust, but by the end of the year hopefully he’s helping in there."
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