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.