By Cord Stasolla
Expectations were high for the men’s soccer team as the Broncs were riding a three-game winning streak when the team took on George Washington at home on Sunday.
Nine minutes into the first half, George Washington scored its first goal, a 35-yard score, courtesy of senior Nikolay Aleksandrov. Ten minutes later at the 19:36 mark, senior Mike Rollings put in a 5-yard goal to make it 2-0.
“With a young team as we have, when they go down early, you can see their heads drop and the body language tells you they are not feeling confident,” said Head Coach Russ Fager.
The team was obviously not feeling very confident, as George Washington added its third goal on a penalty kick four minutes before the half.
“In my previous experiences, when you face an opposition that is good, some teams and individuals come out and play tentative and lack confidence, and I think this may have happened on Sunday for some of our guys,” said senior Nico Tramontana.
The second half brought with it nothing special, and the game ended with a 3-0 George Washington win. The Rider men’s soccer team is now 3-5 overall.
The team that showed up to play last Sunday didn’t seem like the same one that played the previous three games.
“We played very uninspired, without spirit and enthusiasm,” Fager said. It was our worst outing of the year.”
Returning junior Andrew Cotes, who played the entire game, augmented his coach’s words by explaining that, “the game was a major letdown for us. No one really showed up to play, and it showed in the result.”
Despite their disappointing effort against George Washington, the Broncs excelled in their last few games after starting the season 0-4.
“We try to build from our mistakes and fine-tune the positives,” Tramontana said. “We have begun to turn into a tighter family every day.”
The team has shown much improvement from last year, when its record was 2-15-2 overall.
“With already winning more games than last year, our team has a great chance of doing well in our conference,” Cotes said.
“[This year], I believe we have the potential to be in the hunt for a playoff spot in the MAAC,” Fager said.
In its bounce back from last year, leaders have emerged on the team.
“[Andrew] Cotes, [Jim] Bradley and [Nico] Tramontana are definitely quality players for us,” Fager said. “When Nico is on his game, he is difficult to stop and can be a big factor in the game. Several of our freshmen have stepped up for us as well as of late, [Billy] Voutsinas, [Dan] Friga and [Brendon] Noesges are all doing a solid job.”
The Broncs enter conference play on Saturday, traveling to Baltimore to face Loyola (MD) at 1 p.m. The team hopes to hand Loyola its fourth straight loss.
“If this team works hard, puts all of their effort into every game and communicates, they will be a very successful team this fall and in the years to come,” Fager said.