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Media Credit: Gabriella Demczuk | Senior Staff Photographer

Women’s soccer freshman midfielder Kristi Abbate is a member of the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team, following a standout first season on the pitch for the Colonials.

Abbate was the only freshman, and just one of five players, to start all of GW’s 18 games this season, and matched senior teammate Adriana Moya to lead the team with eight points on three goals and two assists.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Kristi as she is an up-and-coming player in the A-10,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “We are confident in her skills as well as her continued development and we are prepared for her to make an impact in the conference for years to come.”

Abbate tallied a team-high two game-winning goals this season, and took 34 shots, a team-high, recording a .471 shots-on-goal percentage. She and the Colonials closed the season with an overall record of 5-12-1 and a 1-8-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play.


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Zach Abaie, men's soccer

Then- junior Zach Abaie dribbles the ball down the field during a home game against Bryant last season. Hatchet File Photo

Correction appended

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Mary Ellen McIntire.

As the end of their season creeps closer, the Colonials suffered two tough losses on the road over the weekend, dropping twice to league foes.

GW opened weekend play Friday against Atlantic 10 newcomer, Butler, falling 4-0 to the Bulldogs.

Butler outshot the Colonials 20-9 on the game, with GW managing just three shots on goal throughout play. Junior co-captain Tyler Ranalli had a team-high two shots for the Colonials. Redshirt freshman goalie Jean-Pierre van der Merwe had four saves.

The team then travelled to Saint Louis to face the No. 20 Saint Louis Billikens Sunday, but was, once again, unable to score, and fell 5-0 to the Billikens.

GW let up an early goal in the 10th minute of play. Ranalli took the Colonials’ first shot in the 16th minute, but the ball went high, and within a minute the Billikens scored again, taking a 2-0 lead. GW had another chance in the 20th minute, when freshman Philip McQuitty took a header-shot that was saved by the St. Louis goalkeeper.

The Colonials found themselves unable to hold the Billikens for the rest of the half, however, as they scored again, ending the first half in a 3-0 lead.

As the second half began, the Colonials held St. Louis at their 3-0 lead. Ranalli took three shots, but was unable to put GW on the scoreboard. Van der Merwe, who had only one save in the first half, had two more in the second.

The Billikens, however, found the back of the net twice more before the end of the half, in the 81st and 88th minutes of play, ending the game with a 5-0 win against the Colonials.

The Colonials travel to Charlotte, N.C. Saturday for their final game of the 2012 season.

Editor’s note: Due to the interruption in the team’s travel plans caused by Hurricane Sandy, The Hatchet was unable to conduct a previously scheduled interview with head coach Craig Jones.

This post was updated Nov. 1, 2012 to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly spelled Philip McQuitty’s name. The correct spelling is now reflected. We regret this error.

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Junior Alex Neal heads downfield during Friday's game against Howard. Photographer: Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer

Junior Alex Neal heads downfield earlier in the season. Hatchet File Photo by Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Sophia Omuemu.

GW headed into this weekend with hopes of securing two wins in its final away games of the regular season but ultimately fell twice: 1-0 to the Rhode Island Rams and 4-0 to the Massachusetts Minutewomen.

The Colonials entered their game Friday aggressively with a 3-1 shot advantage. Prior to the game, the Colonials had emphasized the importance of finishing their shots and moving the ball forward.

“We always try to focus on possession with the intent to go forward and to create scoring opportunities,” head coach Sarah Barnes said.

Freshman Kristi Abbate took the first shot at the 10th minute that sailed by the net, followed by shot attempts from juniors Alex Neal and Jane Wallis. Despite the initial shot advantage, the Rams were able to score the lone goal off of a header at the 28th minute.

“We needed to be more precise with our decision making in the attacking third,” Barnes said. “We needed to put the ball in the box and shoot.”

Sunday, Barnes emphasized to her team the need for strong defensive play and better decision making in order to win.

Both teams battled until the 22nd minute when Massachusetts was able to rebound a shot and convert it into the first goal of the game.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half.  We were pretty optimistic going into the second half,” Barnes said. “But every time we made a couple mistakes, UMass punished us.”

After 42 seconds of play in the second half, the Minutewomen quickly dribbled the ball into the center and netted a goal into the top right corner.  The Colonials picked up their aggression defensively but Massachusetts was able to score a penalty kick goal at the 50th minute.

The Minutewomen scored their final goal at the 57th minute when they stole the ball from freshman goalkeeper Nicole Fasano which led to the final goal of the game being shot into an empty net.

“It’s really more about us then them. We need to focus on making good decisions when we have the ball,” Barnes said.

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Junior Alex Neal heads downfield during Friday's game against Howard. Photographer: Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer

Junior Alex Neal heads downfield earlier in the season. Hatchet File Photo by Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Sophia Omuemu.

With 53 seconds left in the second half, freshman Kristi Abbate rocketed a shot into the net, forcing the game into overtime. But despite Abbate’s hard shot, which tied the game at one, and the ensuing extra period, the Colonials couldn’t secure the victory, ultimately falling 2-1.

It was the second loss of the weekend for GW. Friday, the Colonials dropped a 1-0 game  against A-10 leader La Salle despite freshman goalkeeper Nicole Fasano tallying 10 saves.

Both losses taught the Colonials an important lesson about maintaining their attack on the pitch, head coach Sarah Barnes said.

“We’re going to continue thinking about creating opportunities and finishing,” Barnes said. “Those are important aspects and they’ll be really important going forward in these last conference games.”

Within the first 20 minutes of Friday’s game, it was apparent that the Explorers came ready to shoot the ball, quickly attempting seven shots while Colonials had zero. After 45 minutes of play, La Salle ended the half with 18 shots compared to GW’s two.

But Barnes said the Colonials expected that style of performance from La Salle, and in preparation for the game, GW familiarized itself with the Explorers’ quick style of play. Barnes knew that La Salle would bring a physical, high-pressure approach to the field, and in order to rebut that, GW needed to keep the ball in their half for most of the game.

“They played a pretty frantic pace and we needed to keep the ball,” Barnes said. “We chased a lot but we created good chances.”

GW’s first shot attempt of the game came in the 39th minute, when freshman midfielder Brooke Bean headed an unsuccessful shot towards the goal. Ultimately, the ball was mainly on the Colonials’ defensive end, forcing Fasano to tally eight saves during the first half.

After battling through 72 minutes of play, the Explorers set up a corner kick and volleyed the ball towards the net. Fasano fumbled with the ball, which lead to the lone goal of the game.

“I thought we played well. I thought we played with our chances. You’ve got to roll with the punches,” Barnes said. “We have to be more efficient.”

GW headed to Fordham Sunday prepared to play against the Rams’ uncommon 3-5-2 formation on the pitch, an approach that isn’t seen across the rest of the A-10. In order to combat that, Barnes said, the Colonials’ wanted to “play forward aggressively,” focusing on getting the ball down the field and maintaining solid possession throughout play.

The Colonials started the half off strong with three shot attempts from freshman Amanda Gaggioli, junior Alex Neal, and senior Kayley Sullivan within the first three minutes of play. GW ended the half with eight shots, while the Rams had seven. But at the 56thminute of the second half, the Rams fired the ball from 35 yards out to the top right corner of the goal to nab the first slot on the scoreboard.

“We had several quality chances in the first half. We went one on one with the goalkeeper,” Barnes said. “We were really confident going into the second half.”

Taking the field after the break, GW hoped to pull ahead and earn its first conference victory. The Colonials’ momentum was still high when Abbate dribbled through the Rams defense and shot the ball to the upper right corner of the net, tying the game 1-1.

Both teams entered into overtime battling for a goal, but Fordham scored the final tally of the game at the 96thminute. It was the second OT contest for the Colonials this season, who fell to 0-5-0 in conference play.

 

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Senior goalkeeper Alejandro Almodovar reaches for the ball during a past home game against NJIT. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brennan Murray.

Often this season, GW’s strong points in one game have been their weak points in the next, a lack of consistency that’s reflected in its .500 record.

After losing four straight games to close non-conference play, the Colonials (4-7-0) headed to took to the road this weekend to open up conference play against Richmond and regionally ranked A-10 newcomer VCU. Though a combination of stellar defensive play and offensive aggression paved the way for a 2-1 Colonial victory Friday, a relapse into former offensive struggles predestined GW’s 3-0 loss against the Rams Sunday.

“We got off to a great start which is obviously what we wanted to do and then [Sunday] we took a step backwards, if you will,” head coach Craig Jones said. “Overall, after two games on the road, to pick up a win is great. Now we come back to Mount Vernon so we’re looking forward to that little home stretch we have.”

The Colonials kicked off their bout against Richmond in an uncharacteristic way, taking three of the game’s first four shots and setting a quick offensive tempo. Though a brief blip in GW’s defense landed the Spiders with a penalty kick and score in the 13th minute, a strong overall response from the Colonials became the story of the game from there on out.

GW’s senior goalkeeper Alejandro Almodovar did his part to lock things down in front of the net, tallying a career-high nine saves, including a tough stop off a free kick with just three seconds to play in the match. On the attack, the Colonials won two hard-earned goals via two crosses and headers in the box. Freshman Ross Higgins converted the first score – also the first of his career – in the 22nd minute. Junior Bailey Hinners knocked in the winner in the 68th, marking the second time this season that his goal has been the difference maker.

Though GW was outshot 20-11 overall on the day, the Colonials one-upped Richmond 7-6 in the first 45 minutes, making it the first time GW had outshot an opponent in the first half in the their last seven games.

“We started the game very, very well and kept possession. It was very encouraging knowing it’s something we haven’t done in other games but it’s something that we’ve been working hard on,” Jones said. “Good things happen when you shoot.”

As the Colonials opened against VCU on Sunday though, it became clear early on that they didn’t possess the same aggressive style that helped them to victory on Friday. The Rams dominated the stat sheet, most notably in the time of possession and shots taken categories. VCU shot 12 times in the opening period while GW only did twice. And while the Rams found four corner kicks, the Colonials failed to find one until the closing minutes of the game.

GW’s inability to handle first touches well and control possession at midfield gave VCU the chance to develop runs consistently throughout the match. Rams goals in the 27th, 37th, and 70th minutes represented the Colonials’ inefficiency to clamp it down on the defensive end as well, as GW defenders allowed three open shots to sail pass Almodovar without much contest.

The Colonials’ failure to reproduce the balanced effort they put forth against Richmond is something Jones attributes to multiple missed opportunities and misplays.

“Every time we looked like we were getting any kind of momentum, we gave a goal away, which set us back,” Jones said. “We got ourselves into good spots but we just weren’t able to do what we did on Friday.”

Though conference play is still young, Jones said his team needs to find consistency in order to start playing at the next level.

Citing the incongruity of the Colonials playing style over this weekend, Jones said GW must seek out a rhythm they can reproduce half after half, game after game.

“We had a great performance on Friday night. Then we had a poor first half today and a good second half. We need to produce performances that are 90- minute performances and not just 45 or 60 minutes,” Jones said. “We need to be more consistent for the whole game.”

GW will have a chance to improve their conference record when they play A-10 rival La Salle at home Friday.

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Senior forward Adriana Moya battles for the ball against a Bryant opponent during a match last season. | Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher.

The weekend’s record was split for the Colonials, but head coach Sarah Barnes sees both the victory and the loss as proof of a team that grows stronger with each passing contest.

“They believe they can win games and have a clear understanding of when they play well and why,” Barnes said in an email. “We should feel very confident in our ability to continue to improve and get results.”

The Colonials (3-3) entered the weekend riding a two-match win streak, opening with a game against Towson where GW controlled the tempo of play early. After sophomore forward Meg Murphy saw three shots blocked in the first 17 minutes of play, senior midfield Adriana Moya was finally able to break through the defense, heading a pass past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

At the beginning of the second half, Towson responded with a long punt from their goalkeeper that threaded through GW’s lines, setting up a goal. Freshman midfielder Kristi Abbate rose to the occasion, putting the Colonials on top again with a goal in the 65th minute, the deciding tally in the 2-1 victory.

“We showed that multiple people can step up and score goals, that we have the ability to come from behind and weather the storm defensively when opposing teams put us under pressure,” Barnes said.

But GW couldn’t ride its win streak into the final contest of the weekend, battling Rider Sunday in a hard-fought match that pitted two defensive-oriented teams against each other.

Rider broke a 0-0 tie in the 62 minute by converting a free kick, and though GW outshot Rider 13 shots to 7, the Colonials could muster only two shots on goal. Despite the loss, Barnes said her team’s fight throughout the game showed its ability to withstand pressure and continue to grow.

The Colonials remain encouraged by their record, but are also confident that they are better than their win-loss total suggests. The games leading up to conference play are important for the Colonials, because they have many new players who are still adjusting to the team. Each player is earning valuable experience playing against tough competition and playing together as a team.

“We obviously want to win as much as possible. Each game we are getting better and everything is gelling for us right now,” Moya said “We will move forward as a team and continue to improve. We really do like where we are as a team right now.”

The Colonials play an away match against Liberty Friday before beginning a five-match home stand that features matches against local rivals Howard and American and that will also mark the beginning of Atlantic 10 conference play.

 

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Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 6:29 p.m.

Colonial round-up

jamie armstrong volleyball

Then- sophomore Jamie Armstrong, right, sets up for a spike during the D.C. Challenge in fall 2011. Hatchet File Photo

As the school year approaches, the University’s sports programs continue to move toward their upcoming seasons. Here’s a glimpse at some of the Colonial headlines from this week:

  • The volleyball team was picked to finish fourth in the league by a poll of A-10 head coaches, the program’s highest ranking since the 2010 preseason. The Colonials finished fourth of 10 in the conference last season under then-first year head coach Amanda Ault.
  • The men’s soccer team announced its captains for the upcoming season Wednesday, tabbing seniors Alejandro Almodovar and Seth Rudolph and junior Tyler Ranalli for the leadership positions. Almodovar recorded three shutouts in goal for GW last season, and ranked second in the Atlantic 10 with 0.43 shutouts per game played. Rudolph is the returning leading scorer for the Colonials, tallying eight goals and 19 points in 2011 en route to first-team honors. Ranalli saw his playing time double last year, making the first six starts of his career and adding his first career goal and assist as a Colonial.
  • Senior Omar Sobhy is currently the top-ranked player in the U.S. Squash Adult M 5.0 Division, the governing agency of competitive squash announced this week. Sobhy, who was a member of the Colonials that won the Summers Cup (C-Division) Championship last season, is also the only GW player to ever capture an individual national title.
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Emma Wright. Photo courtesy of GW Athletics Communications.

Recently hired women’s soccer head coach Sarah Barnes continues to round out her coaching roster, adding Emma Wright, a former director of coaching in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.

Wright is the second recent hire for Barnes, following the addition of Marla Nelson as an assistant coach Feb. 29. Before coming to the United States, Wright competed in England’s Women’s Premier League for the Doncaster Belles and Everton, the latter of which won the premiership title. Her overseas experience was one Barnes touted as a valuable selling point for the Colonials.

“Growing up in Manchester, Emma has been immersed in the English soccer culture and we are very excited for her to join our staff,” Barnes said. “Her knowledge of the game and playing experience at the English youth national level has guided her development both as a player and a coach. She is a passionate teacher who understands how to connect with players and communicate the technical and tactical aspects of the game. She will challenge us all to be better.”

Wright spent the past four year as the director of coaching for the Fort Worth Panthers, a program in the third-tier WPSL. There, Wright worked with developmental age groups, competitive teams, camps, club tournaments and fundraising. Prior to her stint with the Panthers, she was an assistant coach from 2006-08 at Southeastern Louisiana University, helping the Lady Lions reach the conference semifinals in both seasons, and worked as an assistant at Division II Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., from 2004-06.

During her college career, Wright competed at both Division I Central Connecticut State University and Division II Slippery Rock University. Over her first three seasons at CCSU, she saw the program advance to its first-ever NCAA tournament second round appearance and was named a First Team All-Northeast Conference selection and the Central Connecticut Sportswriters Player of the Year after helping the Blue Devils win two NEC titles.

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, March 1, 2012 11:25 a.m.

Women’s soccer team gains assistant coach

Marla Nelson

Marla Nelson. Photo courtesy of GW Athletics Communications.

Marla Nelson was named the assistant coach for the women’s soccer team yesterday, joining newly hired head coach Sarah Barnes.

Nelson will work with recruiting and day-to-day operations of the program, and focus on defense and goalkeeper training during the team’s training. She spent the past three seasons as the second assistant women’s soccer coach at Utah State, and was with the program for a 2011 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship, WAC Regular Season Championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance.

While under Nelson’s guidance, the startting Utah State goalkeeper ranked No. 11 nationally for goals against average and No. 21 in save percentage.

“Marla brings the experience of knowing how to build a conference champion and an NCAA tournament team, which will be invaluable to our program,” Barnes said. “She developed a lot of talented players over her years of coaching and we look forward to the impact she will make at GW.”

Nelson was a member of the Cal State Fullerton women’s soccer team, where she was the starting goalkeeper in 1997, 1999 and 2000, earning Big West Scholar-Athlete honors and Titan Scholar-Athlete honors for four straight years. She began assisting club teams in 2000, and worked as the assistant coach for Lone Peak High School, where they won four region championships and made three appearances in the state finals. Nelson has also worked with the Utah Soccer Alliance, Infinity Soccer Club and Utah’s Olympic Development Program.

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Soccer coach Danny Irizarry

Former All-Big Ten Conference performer Danny Irizarry helped guide the Georgia Southern University Eagles to a No. 3 seed in the Southern Conference Tournament last year. Photo courtesy of GW Athletics Communications.

Men’s soccer head coach Craig Jones continued to round out his staff with the hire of former All-Big Ten Conference performer Danny Irizarry.

Irizarry most recently worked as a graduate assistant coach at Georgia Southern University in 2011, where he helped guide the Eagles to a No. 3 seed in the Southern Conference Tournament. He also volunteered as an assistant coach for his alma mater, Ohio State University, aiding the Buckeyes to the 2009 Big Ten Championship.

“As a young, innovative coach, Danny will be bringing some exciting new ideas to the program,” Jones said. “You want a role model for your players and he knows what it takes to be successful at the next level having played in a national championship game and internationally in World Cup qualifiers.”

Prior to coaching, Irizarry was a standout midfielder at Ohio State, earning Big Ten and National All-Freshman Team honors in 2005. A two-time All-Big Ten selection in 2007 and 2008, Irizarry helped the Buckeyes to a Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the NCAA College Cup final as a junior. As a senior, Irizarry captained and led OSU in scoring with six goals and 13 points as a senior and was rated the third-best collegiate midfielder in the country by College Soccer News.

“I am thrilled and very eager to join such a prestigious school as George Washington and to join a program that has achieved great success,” Irizarry said.

The addition follows the Feb. 8 hire of 20-year coaching veteran Jim Felix.

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