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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Fall Sports Preview: Men’s soccer sets sight on A-10 Championship

They are the oldest team in the conference and they play on its youngest field. But it seems the players on the GW men’s soccer team aren’t thinking about their new fields or their old age.

With nine seniors set to graduate, 2001 is the last chance they will have to win a title after turning around a once struggling program. That’s what they’re thinking about.

“Our goal this is year is to win the A-10s and receive an automatic berth to the NCAA’s,” senior and captain Michael Goldman said.

It’s been a tough couple years for many members of the team. Three years ago, the Colonials turned in a 3-14 season. Two years ago, the team made significant improvements but had just five wins to show for it.

The team broke out last year, compiling nine wins, while ending an eight-year absence from the Atlantic 10 Championship.

The Colonials battled top-seeded Dayton through four overtimes I a five-player shootout in round one of the tournament. After Dayton converted its fourth shootout goal, the season came down to a GW freshman, defender Sean Ross, who stood ready to take a penalty shot with his team trailing 5-4.

Ross lined up his shot and as he booted it, Dayton goalkeeper Jeff Krempec dove with him, making the diving save, ending GW’s bid for a title.

This year, the team has its sights set on Corcoran Field at Xavier for the Nov 9-11 A-10 Championship. The Colonials believe this is their year, because they are the most experienced team in the conference having lost just three seniors.

“We have more experience, more maturity,” Goldman said from the sidelines of the new field during a team photo shoot last week.

The departure of graduate Jeff Greenspan, who was named to the 2000 A-10 Championship team for his performance in the A-10 Championship game, creates a small hole at midfield.

But Goldman, who makes his return at midfielder after being sidelined last season with a knee injury, should offset Greenspan’s departure.

The Colonials return with six seniors in the starting lineup.

Goldman, who has scored two goals in two games this season, said winning the title rests on the broad shoulders of 6-foot-0 senior goalkeeper Nick Parypinski.

“He’s our lifesaver,” Goldman said. “We live and die with him.”

Parypinski, who led the A-10 in both saves (113) and save percentage (.856) last year is off to another strong start this year. In the championship game of the D.C. Cup Classic against American, Parypinski made eight saves on 21 shots, including two brilliant saves on breakaways. The lone goal spoke nothing to types of shots Parypinski was facing all day. American’s Shawn Kuykendall knocked in a header off a redirected pass arching just Parypinski’s outstretched fingers.

“Nick is gonna be the key to everything,” Goldman said. “He’s the best player on the team, by far. Every ounce of credit the team has should go to him. He doesn’t get enough.”

Junior Matthew Osborne and senior Matt Pilkington, both preseason All-Conference picks, and Goldman make up a large part of the GW scoring unit. All three scored at least one goal in GW’s 5-2 victory over the Virginia Military Institute Sept 6. Pilkington notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season and scored the first-ever regular season goal at Mount Vernon Campus.

Pilkington, last year’s third-leading scorer in the conference, turned heads Aug 31 when he netted three goal in less than 10 minutes in GW’s 9-1 win over Howard.

Osborne said his role this year is to create more scoring chances as well as scoring goals.

“I don’t think I created as many goals as I could’ve last year,” Osborne said. “I want to develop that role in my game as well.”

The forward scored 16 goals including both goals in the team’s final regular season match against Dayton that sent GW to the A-10 Championships.

Sophomore Fabio Andrade, one of the quickest players on the team. will play a key part in the offense this year. Earler this season head coach George Lidster said Andrade would benefit most from the short turf, which feels like a golf putting green.

Lidster said Andrade could use his speed and quickness to make plays and create scoring chances. In the 5-2 win, Andrade created the scoring chance in Pilkington’s first goal of the day. Andrade also scored the game-winning goal. For his play last year, Andrade joined Sean Ross on the A-10 All Rookie team.

Ross is the main component on defense and is the reason midfielders can push ahead without worry. Ross held off American’s speedy forward Andrew Herman Sept 1. He was also named to the preseason All-Conference team.

Strong goalkeeping from Parypinski and tough defense from Ross and seniors Ted Tucker and Gregg Friedman will allow the GW offense to create riskier plays without compromising protection.

Five Colonials are international soccer players: Seniors Bjarni Thrastarson and Fridrik Omarsson from Iceland; Ross from Trinidad; Riccardo Forno from Toronto; Osborne from England; and Pilkington from Wales.

Pilkington said British-born Lidster, who is from Durham, England, has blended the international styles well.

“Because we have guys that have transferred here and guys that have played internationally, we have a good mixture of experience,” Pilkington said.

After Thursday’s 5-2 victory over VMI, the Colonials have just three games before conference play begins. The newest member to the A-10, the University of Richmond, comes to D.C. Sept 29.

Osborne said GW must use the three remaining non-conference games to find what works.

“Early games are very important,” Osborne said. “Especially that game against Howard. All those goals got us off to a confident start.”

Osborne said Rhode Island is the team to beat in the A-10. The Rams, last year’s A-10 champions, are ranked No. 16 in the country this year. The team lost two All Conference players but returns with Nicholas McCreath, last year’s front runner for the A-10 Player of the Year award. URI is 1-0-1 after battling Siena College to a 2-2 tie.

Osborne said the difference between this year’s team and last year’s is simple: age.

“We’re a lot more mature,” Osborne said. “Most of the guys have been playing together for like three years. I think they’ve developed connections with each other.”

The new playing surface at Mount Vernon is a much faster track than natural grass. Earlier this year, Lidster said his team will have to become better ball controllers. He said one wrong pass can easily get away and become a scoring chance for the other team.

The Colonials are struggling mildly to find a rhythm on their new field. But the same core of player has played together for four years, and finding a rhythm should not take long.

“We just need a little more continuity. A bit more time,” Goldman said. “I think in a couple weeks everybody’s going to gell together at a perfect time going into the A-10s in a few weeks.”

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