Men's Soccer Goes for DC College Cup Three-Peat to Begin 2009
Aug. 31, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - The George Washington men's soccer team goes for its third consecutive DC College Cup title as it opens its season against American at George Mason Stadium at 5:00 pm Wednesday. The Colonials also take on Howard at 5:00 pm Saturday in the ninth annual tournament.
GW, American, George Mason and Howard comprise the DC College Cup field for the third straight season. 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.
2009 DC COLLEGE CUP SCHEDULE (all matches at George Mason Stadium, Fairfax, VA)
The Colonials captured the DC College Cup crown with two victories in 2007, the last time it was held at George Mason, and a 1-0-1 mark at the 2008 event held at American. Last year, Andy Stadler was named the tournament's MVP after totaling three goals in two matches. Brice Carr, Yoni Berhanu and Matt Scheer joined Stadler on the All-Tournament Team.
American finished 9-7-3 overall and split the Patriot League regular-season title with Colgate last season. The Eagles, four-time DC Cup champions, return eight starters and 24 letterwinners. Howard went 1-16-2 in 2008, including an 8-0 loss to GW in the DC College Cup, and returns six starters and 14 letterwinners.
GW is 9-5-2 in the eight-year history of the DC College Cup and trails both American (12-25-2) and Howard (14-18-4) in the all-time series. However, the Colonials have won three consecutive matches against the Eagles and five straight against the Bison.
MEN'S SOCCER 2009 SEASON PREVIEW
The George Washington men's soccer program celebrates three of the best teams in its 43-year history in 2009. It has been 35 years since coach Georges Edeline took the Colonials to their first NCAA Tournament in 1974; 20 years since George Lidster led GW to a school-record 14 wins and its first NCAA Tournament victory in 1989; and five years since the 2004 team rebounded from a 1-8-3 start to win the Atlantic 10 Championship and upset North Carolina to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 2009 Colonials are looking to make history of their own during this year of anniversaries and with nine starters, 10 seniors and 22 letterwinners returning, they have the experience and leadership needed to produce a special season in Foggy Bottom.
Last fall, GW came achingly close to qualifying for its first A-10 Championship since capturing the 2004 crown, allowing a go-ahead goal in the final 15 minutes of its regular-season finale to lose the point needed to advance. This year's senior-laden team, according to Lidster, is "hungry and wants to go further." That hunger translated into a solid Spring 2009 season in which the Colonials went undefeated over a five-game schedule that featured the likes of NCAA Tournament participants George Mason and Loyola (MD) and local professional side Real Maryland.
With nearly 90 percent of its goals (32-of-36) and points (86-of-99) returning, GW will boast one of the A-10's and NCAA's most potent attacks this fall. The Colonials finished second in the conference and seventh in Division I with a 2.12 goals-per-game average in 2008.
Senior All-America candidate Andy Stadler spearheaded the offensive outburst last season, racking up 14 goals and 31 points, tied for eighth-most in program history, en route to being named First Team All-Atlantic 10 and First Team All-Middle Atlantic Region, the first Colonial to receive the honor since All-American Mario Lone in 1989. Stadler tied for third and fifth in the nation in goals and points per game, respectively, in 2008 to move into 10th place on GW's career goals (22) and points (57) lists. A similar spectacular season could put Stadler among the program's Top 5 all-time scorers and would likely spell team success for GW in 2009.
Assisting Stadler up top is reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-Conference pick Yoni Berhanu. Berhanu finished third on the team with four goals and 11 points during an impressive debut season in which he was also named to College Soccer News' Freshman All-America Second Team. Redshirt senior Mike Rollings returned to the form that saw him earn A-10 All-Rookie Team honors in 2005, equaling his career-high with nine points on three goals and three assists last season. Junior Steve Wujek, who provided two goals off the bench in 2008, Stadler, Berhanu and Rollings combined for 23 of GW's 36 goals and comprise four of GW's top seven returning scorers.
Sophomore Aldin Dervisevic saw time in just one match last fall, but gained added experience during the spring season. Freshman Seth Rudolph, an Illinois All-State selection, totaled a Belleville West High-record 23 goals in 2008 to finish his four-year career with 53 tallies.
The Colonials will be most experienced across the middle of the pitch with five senior midfielders anchoring the position this fall. Seniors Erick Perez-Segnini, Kyle Albrecht, Luke Wildy, Mike Briscoe and Andrew Kroculick have all been battle-tested the past three years and should prove to be one of the top midfield corps in the A-10 in 2009.
Perez-Segnini was recognized for a solid 2008 campaign with A-10 honorable mention All-Conference accolades after finishing second on the team with five goals and 12 points. Perez-Segnini and Kroculick, who added a goal and an assist in 13 matches last season, will control the flanks.
Wildy, Albrecht and Briscoe return to patrol the central midfield after combining for eight assists last fall. Wildy and Albrecht are excellent distributors and provide a more offensive look, while Briscoe gives a defensive presence to the middle. Redshirt junior Will Doar and junior Marcus Ranney supply Lidster with added size and work-rate at wide midfield.
Freshman Mattia Melillo, a First Team All-Maryland and Washington Post All-Met selection, should bring a scoring mindset to the midfield. He totaled 48 goals during his scholastic career at Walkersville High, including 14 while earning area Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2008.
Lidster feels the strength of his 2009 squad lies in defense, where the Colonials return six letterwinners who started multiple matches along the back four last season. Seniors Byron Walker and Nikolay Aleksandrov are the veteran leaders, but sophomores Brice Carr, Mike Burke and Jake Davis each gained significant experience during their rookie seasons and were crucial contributors to a GW backline that allowed its fewest goals (21) in eight seasons.
Similar to 2008, expect Walker, Carr and Davis to share starting XI duties in central defense, while Aleksandrov, Burke and junior Kory Trott will likely split starts on the outside. Senior Mike Holland, sophomore Dave Thompson and freshman Jamie LaFleur add much-needed depth to a Colonials' backline that has been hampered by injuries in past seasons. LaFleur captained the defense at nearby Winston Churchill High in Potomac, MD, earning Second Team All-State honors in 2008.
The goalkeeper position will be the least experienced on Lidster's roster this season. Redshirt junior Scott Goossens is the only netminder to see Division I action after playing 34 minutes in 2008, while redshirt sophomore Erik Haug has spent his first two seasons training. Heralded rookie Brendan Lafferty could prove to be the solution. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound freshman was named to the A-10 Preseason All-Rookie Team and is among College Soccer News' "100 Freshmen to Keep an Eye On in 2009." Lafferty earned NSCAA/adidas Youth All-America and USSF Northeast Starting XI honors as a member of the Albertson Soccer Club (NY) in 2008.
Entering its 45th season of varsity competition, the George Washington men's soccer team will face five teams that participated in last year's NCAA Tournament and host nine matches at Mount Vernon Athletics Complex as part of its 2009 schedule.
The nine-match non-conference schedule is highlighted by a Sept. 11 visit to California, which lost in the third round of the NCAA Tournament to eventual national champion Maryland last season, and a trip to ACC Tournament finalist and NCAA participant Virginia on Sept. 22. GW last played Virginia in 1994, the year the Cavaliers captured the last of their five national titles.
The Colonials also will face defending Atlantic 10 champion Dayton and 2008 NCAA participant Massachusetts as part of their nine-match home slate, which marks the most home games for the program since 2004, as well as visit Saint Louis, which played in its record 45th NCAA Tournament last fall.
GW opens its season at the ninth annual DC College Cup at George Mason Stadium in Fairfax, VA. The two-time defending DC Cup champion Colonials battle Patriot League semifinalist American in the opening match Sept. 2 at 5:00 pm, then face Howard three days later at 5:00 pm.
Division II University of the District of Columbia kicks off the Mount Vernon home schedule Sept. 8, three days before GW travels to Berkeley, CA, for its showdown against Cal. The Colonials return to Mount Vernon Sept. 16 to face Atlantic Soccer Conference champion Longwood for the fourth time in as many seasons, then prepare for a nighttime showdown at Virginia six days later.
GW completes its non-conference agenda with back-to-back home games against Northeast Conference finalist Mount St. Mary's Sept. 27 and Navy Sept. 30, followed by a trip to Rider Oct. 4. The Colonials defeated both the Mountaineers and Midshipmen by one-goal margins in 2008.
The Atlantic 10 portion of the schedule begins with four consecutive road matches, starting with a 7:00 pm match at Charlotte Oct. 9 and Saint Louis Oct. 11, then La Salle (Oct. 16) and Fordham (Oct. 18) the following weekend. The Colonials round out regular-season play with five straight home matches, beginning with Xavier (Oct. 23) and the defending A-10 champion Flyers (Oct. 25), Richmond (Oct. 31), Rhode Island (Nov. 6) and the 2007 A-10 champion Minutemen (Oct. 8).
The six-team A-10 Championship will take place at URI's Soccer Complex in Kingston, RI, Nov. 12-15.