Nov. 10, 2011
ST. LOUIS - The Atlantic 10 regular-season co-champion George Washington men's soccer team heads to St. Louis, Mo., this week to compete in the 2011 A-10 Championship at Saint Louis University's Robert R. Hermann Stadium.
The Department of Athletics and Recreation will show the live video stream of tonight's A-10 Men's Soccer Championship Semifinal between GW and La Salle on the Charles E. Smith Center videoboard immediately following tonight's basketball home opener against UMES. Click here for more details or call 202-994-7325 for more information.
GW (9-6-2) is the No. 2 seed for the tournament and will receive an opening round bye at the event. The Colonials will face No. 5 seed La Salle on Friday at 8:30 p.m. EST after No. 6 seed Xavier upset No. 3 seed and nationally ranked Charlotte, 2-1, in overtime earlier Thursday. The Explorers shut out fourth-seeded Temple, 2-0, on later Thursday night.
A-10 MEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL GW had four players and its head coach recognized on the end-of-the-year Atlantic 10 All-Conference teams announced Wednesday. George Lidster claimed his third league Coach of the Year award after guiding the Colonials to a 7.5-game turnaround (3-15-0 in 2010 to 9-6-2 in 2011) from the previous season and a share of the A-10 regular-season crown. Senior Yoni Berhanu was named Midfielder of the Year and First Team All-Atlantic 10, junior Seth Rudolph earned First Team All-Atlantic 10, senior defender Mike Burke was chosen Second Team All-Atlantic 10, and rookie center back Matthew Scott was voted to the A-10 All-Rookie Team.
FREE VIDEO: Atlantic 10 All-Access
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IN-MATCH LIVE BLOG
Coach George Lidster captured his 200th career victory (200-197-51) with Sunday's dramatic title-clinching victory over Duquesne. In August, Coach Lidster announced he would retire at the conclusion of the season, and on Sunday he was honored prior to his final home match at Mount Vernon Field. Lidster was presented a signed jersey from a number of GW men's soccer alumni, a framed team photo from this year's team captains Yoni Berhanu, Mike Burke and Brice Carr, and a fishing rod and gear as a retirement gift from the Department of Athletics and Recreation.
Berhanu collected several league and national honors this week after his weekend heroics in helping GW to its bid and bye in the A-10 Championship. Among the honors: Disney Soccer/NSCAA National Player of the Week, Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, and Soccer America National Team of the Week. Berhanu scored three goals in GW's weekend victories over St. Bonaventure (3-0) and Duquesne (1-0), including game-winning goals in both contests. He led the A-10 during the regular season with 10 goals.
Junior Seth Rudolph injured his right leg in last Friday's 3-0 victory over St. Bonaventure and is questionable for Friday's semifinal. Rudolph ranked second on the team and fourth in the A-10 with eight goals in the regular season.
For the second consecutive week, GW is ranked sixth in the weekly NSCAA Mid-Atlantic regional rankings. The Colonials trail fellow A-10 Championship qualifiers Charlotte (No. 1 regional, No. 8 national), Fordham (No. 2) and Xavier (No. 4).
GW began the season with a 2-4-2 mark in eight non-conference matches, but rebounded for a 7-2-0 record through its nine-match A-10 slate to earn its first conference tournament bid since 2004.
This year's A-10 Championship appearance is the program's 11th all-time in its 25 seasons in the league. GW is 4-7-2 in 10 previous appearances, with tourney titles in 2002 and 2004.
In their most recent A-10 Championship appearance in 2004, the Colonials won their second A-10 Championship in three seasons (2002, 2004). GW began 2004 with a 1-8-3 mark, but went 9-1-1 over its final 11 matches en route to the league tournament title and the NCAA Tournament's second round.
GW has the highest-scoring duo in the A-10 Championship in senior Yoni Berhanu and junior Seth Rudolph, who have combined for 18 goals and 42 points in 2011. Only Duquesne's Simon Gomez and Joshua Patterson combined for more goals (18) and points (57) than the Colonials' combo.
The GW defense has posted four shutouts in its last five matches, six clean sheets in its nine A-10 contests, and seven shutouts this season. The Colonials have outscored their league opponents by a total of 17-6 this fall.
Junior goalkeeper Brendan Lafferty has gotten the decision in each of GW's five consecutive victories, allowing just one goal over that span. He has decreased his season goals-against average to 0.96 while posting a 5-3-2 record in 10 starts. Junior Alejandro Almodovar has played in the other seven matches, posting a 1.43 GAA and a 4-3-0 record.
GW's defensive efforts have been by-committee much of the season as Coach Lidster has relied on a number of players along the back four. The Colonials are expected to send senior Mike Burke, junior Jamie LaFleur, sophomore Alex Sandland and freshman Matthew Scott onto the pitch in front of Lafferty this weekend. Junior Daniel Ripperger-Suhler and sophomore Abdul Shaban could also see minutes. Senior Brice Carr is questionable (back), and senior Jake Davis will likely see limited minutes at forward.
Conversely, the Colonials' midfield has been consistent throughout much of the season with Berhanu, juniors Zach Abaie and Mattia Melillo, sophomore Bailey Hinners and freshman Joe Holleran patrolling the majority of minutes in the middle of the park. Abaie was recently named to the College Soccer News and Soccer America National Teams of the Week and A-10 Co-Player of the Week following his four-assist weekend in victories at Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while Melillo earned a share A-10 Player of the Week honors on Oct. 10.