This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Mark Eisenhauer.
The men’s soccer team’s match Sunday against District rival Howard University was a tale of two halves.
After a sluggish start that put them down 1-0 going into the second half, the Colonials scored four unanswered goals to win their second and final match of the Kuykenstrong D.C. College Cup by a 4-1 margin.
Both teams had come off losses: GW fell 2-0 to American on Friday, while Howard was demolished 7-0 by George Mason in the team’s season opener. When the game began, the Colonials failed to show renewed energy to perform better on the field.
“I think we came out a little flat. [Howard] wanted it a little more than us, in terms of first and second balls. We just couldn’t really get out of that funk,” head coach Craig Jones said.
GW created some opportunities in the first half, spurred by laser sharp passing from junior Jonny Forrest and sophomore Angel Valencia, but they were unable to capitalize.
Then, in the 27th minute, Howard freshman Austin Williams got the ball at the top of the box and blasted it past GW’s starting goalie, junior Jean-Pierre van der Merwe, who was slightly screened on the shot. Despite a few more chances on the opposite end of the field, the Colonials remained down a goal going into halftime.
“[At halftime] I just told [the team] to keep believing in themselves and fight for each other and the results will come,” senior co-captain Andri Alexandersson said.
And they did come in the second half when, after countless chances, the offense finally broke through. In the 63rd minute, Forrest tied the game off a header of a cross from sophomore Spiros Tsakos, who just 14 minutes before had received a yellow card.
Forrest, one of the Colonials top offensive weapons, saw limited playing time Friday because of a leg injury, but received more time against Howard.
Forrest started the game up top along with Valencia. Junior Ross Higgins, senior Farhan Khan, junior Oliver De Thier and freshman Christian Lawal started in the midfield and sophomore Miles Mclearn, Alexandersson and freshman Ismail Lapp-Kamara started on the backline.
“The response and second half performance from the whole group was key. Today we had almost a totally different line-up from Friday, so again we are going to have to use the whole squad in order to be successful this year,” Jones said.
More members of that squad continued to yield results when sophomore Garrett Heine tucked away a ball rebounding off the Howard keeper from a powerful shot from outside the box by Lawal.
“As soon as we got that first goal, we put a lot of pressure on [Howard],” Alexandersson said.
A ball trickled to the top of the box in the 73rd minute, and senior Khan struck it for a third goal. Valencia received a through ball and was able to dribble around the Howard keeper, putting away the team’s fourth and final goal.
“Getting the first win of the season is always great, especially this early. We’ve just got to keep going and keep our spirits high for next weekend,” Alexandersson said.
The Colonials are now 1-1 on the season and will host Harvard University in their home opener Sunday.