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Grading the Colonials: Fall sports check-up

Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor
Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

Rebuilding years for the women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer teams have turned into win streaks, upsets and playoff races. The three GW teams are hardly favorites to hang Atlantic 10 title banners, but have each shown promising streaks and improvements that give them hope both for this year and the future.

With fall sports well into Atlantic 10 conference play, The Hatchet has put together a mid-season report card for each team.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Andrew Goodman
Sophomore defensive midfielder Philip McQuitty controls the ball in a game earlier this season against Robert Morris.

Men’s soccer puts faith in its defense
by Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Writer

Men’s soccer has a 4-6-2 (1-0-2 A-10) record through the first half of the season and is ranked fifth in the A-10 conference standings.

After a promising start, the team skidded on a four-game losing streak to close out non-conference play. It stepped up their game for conference play since, and have secured two big ties against tough A-10 teams, largely on the strength of their defense.

Offense: C+
The offense has been hit or miss so far for the Colonials. Senior co-captain Tyler Ranalli has been dominant, averaging a goal every two games and ranking tied for third in the A-10. Still, GW has been shut out in five games and Ranalli’s six goals so far account for 40 percent of the team’s scores to date.

Defense: B
The defense got off to a rocky start, averaging 1.4 goals against in non-conference play. In A-10 games, however, the defense has shut down opponents to the tune of .3 goals against per game. This sudden improvement is the main reason for the team’s rise from 10th in the preseason rankings. Junior co-captain Andri Alexandersson is the team’s defensive anchor and has played a team second of 855 minutes on the season.

Goalkeeping: C/A
Sophomore Jean-Pierre van der Merwe started the season in goal for the Colonials and averaged 1.42 goals allowed through the first nine games of the season, with a .690 save percentage. After the team’s struggle at the end of non-conference play, junior Luke Farrell stepped in as starting goalie and has dominated in the first three A-10 games, averaging just 0.29 goals allowed per game and a .917 save percentage. How far the team goes will likely have to do with Farrell’s continued success.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster
Sophomore Kristi Abbate faces off against a defender in a match earlier this season against American.

Women’s soccer makes run for A-10 tournament
by Josh Solomon | Hatchet Staff Writer

With three A-10 conference games remaining, the women’s soccer team is looking to give themselves a little more breathing room in the conference standings. They have a 2-2-1 record since conference play began and currently sit in seventh place. Just the top eight teams will advance to the conference championship.

GW’s remaining opponents have a combined conference record of 8-5-1. First comes George Mason Friday in the “Revolutionary Rivalry” game, then VCU Sunday and Richmond the following Sunday. The Colonials will likely need to win two out of the three games to qualify for the conference tournament.

Consistency: C+

So far through A-10 play, GW has surprised, stunned, disappointed and underwhelmed. They started conference play off with a win on the road versus Rhode Island, their first conference opener win since 2010. GW then picked up a shocking win, taking down a La Salle team that had not lost a conference regular season game since Oct. 29, 2010. After the momentous win, though, the Colonials then dropped two straight games and tied a third to set them back in the standings.

Defense: B

Now with a middle-of-the-pack record, GW will need continued strong play from its defense to get back in contention. Senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick and defender Melanie Keer lead the experienced back line that has allowed under ten shots per game. Ulrick has an .812 save percentage on the year, while letting in just under one goal a game.

Offense: C+

Despite struggling to push goals across, scoring just 13 all season, the biggest surprise of the year has been where those goals have come from. Senior Jane Wallis, who had no goals coming into the season, leads the team with three, while two freshman – Lina Proska and MacKenzie Cowley – who have three and two goals respectively, have brought a burst of energy to the offensive attack.

It’s unlikely, though, that continuing the trend of averaging just one goal a game will get GW very far in conference playoffs.

Media Credit: Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Photographer
Senior Rachel Gross tips the ball over the net against VCU.

Women’s volleyball hits its stride
By Sean Hurd | Contributing Sports Editor

With just eight matches left in the regular season, head coach Amanda Ault finds her team playing its best volleyball of the year, currently riding the momentum of a season-high five-game win streak. The Colonials have clawed their way back from a lackluster start and currently sit at .500, holding an overall record of 10-10, 5-1 in the A-10.

There is a simple way to assess the Colonials’ season thus far: by dividing their season and looking at the contrast between the first 10 matches and the last 10.

At the season’s start, GW struggled to successfully acclimate their seven new players, cope with two injured returners and find a six-woman rotation that could give Ault consistent production. The Colonials went 4-6 in their first 10 matches, with inexperience contributing to their inability to close out crucial fifth sets. Four of their six losses would come in straight sets.

Two games stand out, though, when explaining GW’s impressive turnaround. The first was a five-set victory over URI, where the Colonials showed their first real signs of resilience and meshing on the floor. The second match came in the team’s second meeting with VCU, in which the Colonials outplayed the top team in the A-10 and grabbed the upset victory. The Colonials remain the only team in the A-10 to knock off the Rams this season. In their last ten games, the Colonials are 6-4, with five of those wins coming in A-10 play.

One of the statistical leaders for the Colonials is two-time A-10 rookie of the week, freshman middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu. She has been a force on the pin, both offensively and defensively, leading the A-10 in hitting percentage at .366. On the back line, sophomore Maddy Doyle has amounted 319 digs, ranking third in the A-10 in digs per set at 4.25.

The Colonials face a tough back end to their regular season schedule, with two matches against Duquesne, who also holds a five-game win streak, and two matches versus last season’s A-10 champions Dayton.

But if the Colonials are able to continue the strong play they have demonstrated during this streak, they can make a solid run at the A-10 championship, which will be held this year at the Smith Center in November.

Grade: B

This post was updated on Oct. 24, 2013 to reflect the following:

Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Jane Wallis has four goals this season. She actually has three.

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