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Men’s soccer wins first conference match against quiet Davidson offense

File Photo by Jordyn Bailer | Assistant Photo Editor
The Colonials won their first conference game, rebounding from a winless two weeks as they entered the regular season stretch of A-10 competition this Saturday.

The Colonials won their first conference game Saturday, rebounding from a winless two weeks as they enter the regular season stretch of Atlantic-10 competition.

The Colonials (3-2-2) beat the Davidson Wildcats (1-5-1) by a score of 1–0 at home after holding a strong defense on the front lines of the zone that kept the Wildcats out of the box for the majority of the game. The winning goal came in the 51st minute off the foot of GW graduate forward Oscar Haynes Brown following a drawn-out defensive battle from both sides.

Davidson came into the game with only four goals during their seven games of nonconference play, including five scoreless matches, as the team continues to struggle to piece together its offense.

Both squads battled it out at midfield early, with possession switching often, leading to limited opportunities to score. The first shot of the game came from GW’s senior midfielder Elias Norris, who launched a curving shot from long range that just missed the crossbar high in the fifth minute. GW narrowly edged out Davidson in shots on the day at a split of nine to eight.

GW senior goalie Justin Grady halted the first major Davidson push when he intercepted a through ball in the 11th minute in the early part of what little action he saw guarding the Colonials net.

At the 26th minute, Norris drew a foul in Wildcat territory, which set up a free kick that would threaten the Davidson box for the first time in the game. Norris fixed a potential header in the congested box, but Davidson junior goalie Lou Liedtka collected the ball.

In the 13th minute, Davidson notched back-to-back corner kicks, neither of which resulted in goals past GW’s continued defensive barrier. Minutes later, Davidson managed to cook up another offensive push, this time successfully pulling goalie Justin Grady out right before crossing it back and missing the open shot wide left.

With about 22 minutes to go in the first half, the game paused for a hydration break as both squads continued to struggle to gain offensive momentum. Senior forward Tom Cooklin led the GW offense at forward and fired his first shot of the match, missing from long distance high over the crossbar in the 25th minute.

The first yellow card of the game came off an aggressive tackle by GW junior midfielder Carter Humm in response to a foul on GW senior midfielder Tiago Carvalho, as he sought to score after a corner kick. The Colonials would gain four yellow cards on the day, while Davidson committed only one.

Minutes later, freshman forward Alex Nicholson secured the closest free kick of the game at the time, which Cooklin took inside the box. He kicked it close, before successfully crossing it, but nobody was on the receiving end to fire a shot on goal.

Neither side could generate much offensive success for the rest of the final minutes of the first half. A pattern of trading possession near midfield continued, with only three shots per team coming in the entire first half.

Davidson started with possession in the second half and attacked the GW net early. Grady saved the Wildcats’ first shot on goal with a dive in his first-and-only official save of the day. Just three minutes into the second half, the ball had entered the GW box three times.

Shortly after, the Wildcats had their best opportunity to score and gain a 1–0 lead after a beautiful cross gave Davidson’s freshman midfielder Baylen Young a wide-open shot. He extended his left foot before tripping, which allowed a GW defender to knock it out of bounds and prevent a game-changing goal.

On the counterattack, GW’s Norris managed to float a long one to Cooklin on the right side. Cooklin remained patient, dribbling it down toward the corner before perfectly crossing it to Haynes Brown who knocked in the open shot to give GW a decisive 1–0 lead in the 51st minute.

In the 55th minute, Davidson freshman midfielder Alonzo Clarke committed the first-and-only yellow card for the Wildcats, tackling Haynes Brown after he got close to the Davidson zone. With 33 minutes to go, Davidson gained a free kick off a foul that sailed out of bounds, setting up another goal kick for GW.

After a corner kick from GW in the 68th minute, Davidson launched a counterattack that gained them a free shot from just 20 yards out. The Colonials defense held strong and managed to clear the ball back to Davidson territory.

After the second hydration break, the Colonials relaxed their offense and let the Wildcats attack against a stronger defensive line as they held the lead while the clock winded down.

With just four minutes to go, Davidson found their last chance with a goal kick in GW territory, but Grady managed to reign it in. The GW defense maintained a strong effort, which helped give them their first A-10 victory of the season.

In a match of defense, GW won out, limiting scoring opportunities for Davidson and managing to capitalize on their own.

The Colonials will play Wednesday at 1 p.m. against Howard at the Mount Vernon Campus.

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