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By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Men’s soccer grinds out overtime win to finish season

File Photo by Serena Lum | Photographer
GW and Saint Bonaventure battled back and forth through 90 minutes, but the Colonials ultimately prevailed in sudden death overtime.

Men’s soccer closed out their season with a win against Saint Bonaventure on the road Saturday.

The Colonials (5-10-2, 3-4-1 A-10) defeated the Bonnies (4-10-1, 3-5-0 A-10) in a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory thanks to a four goal performance by graduate student forward Oscar Haynes Brown. Despite Haynes Brown’s heroics, the Colonials will miss the Atlantic 10 conference tournament after tying for eighth in the conference.

The Colonials came into the day with a chance to qualify for the A-10 Championship with a win and losses from Massachusetts and Dayton. But Massachusetts drew with VCU, putting them level on points with GW and through to the playoffs on a higher goal differential.

Saint Bonaventure was also looking to sneak into the tournament as they would have qualified with a win or a draw and a Massachusetts loss.

“This is a great team performance,” head coach Craig Jones said. “Oscar will obviously get a lot of credit, deservedly for scoring four goals in a game, but a lot of guys today, Josh in particular in defense, Hrolfur, the midfield players, they really put a shift in.”

With his performance, Haynes Brown became the seventh highest scorer in program history. He has also scored the last four OT winning goals for the program, a streak that began in October 2017.

GW started the match strong as Haynes Brown opened up the scoring in the 11th minute. Junior midfielder Tom Cooklin played an incisive pass across the field to graduate student midfielder Sandro Weber, who played Haynes Brown in through on goal.

Weber had a chance to double the lead in the 20th minute following a through ball by Cooklin, but Weber could not control the ball with his chest and he was unable to poke it past graduate student goalkeeper Trevor Wilson.

Four minutes later, Saint Bonaventure responded with a goal of their own thanks to an incredible solo effort from junior forward Joshua Pulla. After slinking his way past two GW defenders, he cut in and curled the ball into the top right corner from the top of the box.

The Bonnies struck again in the 30th minute. Graduate student midfielder Francesco Caorsi chipped a through ball over the GW defense into the path of senior midfielder Cunyet Vardar, who finished the chance with an acrobatic volley past junior goalkeeper Justin Grady to put the Bonnies ahead 2-1.

Just eight minutes later, Saint Bonaventure had an opportunity to score a third. Senior midfielder Issac Boamah blew past GW junior defender Ryan Cedeno and played a tantalizing ball across the face of goal but no one could tuck it away for the Bonnies.

Despite a strong start to the first half, the Colonials remained behind by a goal heading into the second half.

“I challenged some players who I thought took a play off or two during the first half when we conceded the goals,” Jones said. “I wanted to see what their reaction was going to be. But the whole group was just like, the first 25 minutes, the way we started the game, was going to be how we needed to start the second half.”

In the 49th minute, after Cooklin found his way around two defenders, he was pulled down in the box and the referee awarded a penalty to the Colonials. Haynes Brown stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner as the goalkeeper went the opposite direction to make it 2-2 and mark his third goal from the spot this year.

The chances kept coming for the Colonials as senior midfielder Alhaji Turay blasted a shot from outside the box through traffic but Wilson got down to save it just a minute after the GW equalizer.

GW retook the lead in the 62nd minute after sophomore midfielder Tim Neumann scuffed a half volley from distance. The failed attempt fell to Haynes Brown, who sidestepped Bonnies graduate student defender Jaaziel Thompson and finished into the bottom left corner.

The Colonials made a move forward as Cooklin beat his defender and drew a foul just outside the box in the 86th minute. Graduate student defender Joshua Yurasits hammered the free kick directly at Wilson, who spilled the shot but GW was unable to capitalize upon the mistake.

Grady had a heads up play with two minutes left in the match, jumping through a crowd to smother a bouncing ball in the box and snuff out the attack and maintain the Colonial lead.

But with 45 seconds left in regulation, the ball fell to Caorsi in the midfield, who played a through ball to a wide open Pulla on the right side. Pulla calmly took the chance on his right foot and chipped the ball over the sliding legs of Grady to send the game into overtime.

The Bonnies’ celebrations were short lived however, as GW struck early in sudden death overtime. In the 92nd minute, Yurasits played a long throw into the box and the ball bounced through six Saint Bonaventure defenders right into the path of Haynes Brown at the back post, who converted for his fourth goal of the match, ninth of the season, and the 31st of his illustrious career.

“I’m so proud of the way we fought back to get in front,” Jones said. “And I think overall we deserved to win today. So I’m glad that they were able to at least finish the season on a win.”

Though the Colonials will end up missing the postseason after coming in as the runner-up last year, GW finishes the season with two wins and a tie in their last five conference games and six goals after netting just three in the first half of the A-10 slate.

“I can’t fault how the guys stuck together,” Jones said. “I’m proud of how they stuck together. They didn’t give up and fold as things started to become hard. We dug in and we grinded out some results. We were still playing for something today.”

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