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AU Mens Soccer plays GWU at George Mason University at 5pm tomorrow, Friday August 28th.
Last year, the team had by far their most significant season in many years. A regular season victory over #1 UCLA (also an NCAA Finalist) was *I think* the first ever AU team victory over a top ranked opponent. The PL had a good year last year with several teams playing their best soccer in a long time: Boston, Bucknell, Navy and Army all were very tough opponents. AU was hurt at the end of last season when they lost their starting goalkeeper to injury.
The midfield and forwards return from last season, but AU loses three backline players. The good news is that one of the forwards, Jake Garcia, was super effective filling in at the defensive corner and center back, so we have at least one sure-footed replacement. If Jake Garcia does indeed get a fulltime postion on defense, he will add some creativity back there which was missing from our attack last season. Whenever you have trouble scoring goals, late-game overlapping goes a long way to surprising the opponent.
David Nakhid's son, Panos, will take control of the center midfield and sometimes be pushed into a forward position. Can he improve as much in his AU career like his father did? If so, this could be a breakout year. Joe Iraola has first class skills at one wing. Dale Luwig is a pest for defenders both with his feet and in the air. Liam Robley is a stalwart defensive mid from England with a knack for taking free kicks.
If AU can organize themselves well on the backline, this could be a great year for them.
I attended AU soccer's first match, a 2-1 win over GWU. In all my years of seeing AU soccer, I have come to the conclusion that if the team does not look good from day one, they will not develop into a good team. But if they look good, they can rise to be a great team.
AU looked better than they have in many years. They have a lot of good attacking players. The brightest spot was that Dale Ludwig is now the starting center mid, and Panos Nakhid has been moved forward. Ludwig had an exceptional match, the kind you dream of from your field general. Nakhid was not very effective in the begining, but as a holding forward made runs in the second half that turned the defense on their heads.
The backilne went mostly untested in this game. it is now composed of one returning defender and three former forwards. So expect good foot skils, but it remains to be seen how they coalesce.
GWU is usually a solid quad, but we made them look lethargic and dimwitted. They did nothing to earn their penalty kick; it was just a bad decision on our part.
I can't predict the future, but I know from the way we played last year that we have strong reason to believe that this team can build on this fine effort. I am really looking forward to this season.
AU Men's Soocer posted their first victory over George Mason since 2009 with a 3-1 win. This is a quality opponent, and AU is looking very good so far. After a fast start, Mason faded quickly, and AU took a 3-0 halftime lead. Mason could do surprisingly little against AU for almost the entire second half. One of their few good looks got them a goal with 12 minutes remaining, but that was about it.
Interestingly enough, the top three returning teams in the PL (Navy, Bucknell, and Boston) all play at AU this season, so we will get to see those games in person.
AU defeats Howard 6-0. All goals scor d in first 30 minutes of play. That's a beat down. Virginia high school leagues have a mercy rule - requiring the game to end if 9-0. I saw it in action several times a few years ago. Wonder if there is something similar in college. This is a great sign for the Eagles.
AU plays Penn at Reeves Field, 3pm tomorrow, Sunday. Penn just tied #23 Washington 0-0 in their only game so far. AU then takes on Hofstra next Friday at 4pm. Like AU, Hofstra has a 3-0 record including a victory against Syracuse. Both games should be a strong test for AU.
'Cuz we're on a roll. 4-0 over Penn. the Eagles looked dominant in the first half with superior quickness and precision passing. Very impressive win over what is predicted to be the class of the Ivy League.
For some reason Dale Ludwig, was not in uniform for this game. Missing our best player did not slow down the Eagles, and Panos Nakhid was dazzling in a more central role against Penn. He definitely flashed the skills of his father. Also, Joe Iraola, who has been brilliant, did not start but contributed a fine assist. In his place Vinnie Barone was dazzling and scored a goal.
I am not going to say our competioton has been stallar so far. But I am confidant in saying we haven't looked this good in a decade, even at times when the competition has been unimpressive. Almost every ball is played meaningfully. We close on players quickly, and we protect the ball at every turn. Hard to imagine a better start to the season.
Huge weekend with Hofstra coming to town ranked 17. What was wrong with the moniker Flying Dutchmen? I mean, really. Why switch that up to Pride. That's just far too Disney-sequel for me. Anyway. The Pride feature several international players including a stud midfielder and speedy striker, plus a stellar keeper. Good test for AU. Let's hope we stay focused and aggressive.
Hofstra and Lehigh both went away from their traditional nicknames.... takes away form the personality of college sports.
I am really looking forward to see how we match up against better competition. Also curious as to why Dale Ludwig wasn't at the last game. We have some tough games coming up with Hofstra and then Loyola Marymount (#19, Top Drawer Soccer) and New Mexico (#21, TDS). They've all gotten off to strong starts. we are suddenly in the thick of things.
Hofstra was a formidable opponent. Big, strong, fast, good footwork, they attack in waves. They can go short or long and they defend fiercely. Whatever they do well, I am not sure AU will face better. But they didn't finish. AU did, and came away with a 2-0 victory. It was a big test for our defense which had not been severely tested before this match. Our corners Chirs Fanet and Jordan Manley did not easily give away corner kicks, and the center backs stood tall. In the middle of the field, Robley, Nakhid and Hart were strong. It was a satisfying game against a very rugged opponent. I would not be surprised to see them in the NCAA tourney.
Post by turtleguts on Sept 12, 2015 5:13:42 GMT -5
We appear to be very balanced. I don't know much about the rest of the Patriot league but Robley has to be an early frontrunner for player of the year, right? Happy to see Hart with a good start. I was excited about his recruitment last year but he did not see the field as much as I expected.
Navy, Bucknell and Boston are supposed to be at the top of the PL. Colgate is off to a good start. The once powerful Loyola program is in a tailspin. Navy plays at Maryland on Monday.
Hart is playing what I call a target froward. As the most advanced forward, when he makes a run it is either to get the ball or, if the defender breaks early with him, he clears out space for the mids. He doesn't get a lot of touches until it's time to score. The timing of his runs is key, and the team is all on the same page. This is the most effective use I've seen of that position at AU. Congrats to Coach Todd West, he is rising to the occassion with a fine slate of athletes.
Even though he got a lot of time at forward last year, I thought Jake Garcia should have started over Christian Robbs at center back. He was excellent when he did have the chance to fill in, especially at clearing the ball in a meaningful way and with the possibility of carrying the ball forward. In fact, Garcia brought the ball forward on AU's first goal against Hofstra. He brought it up slowly, and when he saw nobody coming to stop him, he continued to carry the ball. Jordan Manley overlapped (he is often the last defender), and Garcia slotted the pass beautifully for him. Liam Robley had been asking for the ball, but Garcia did the right thing in keeping it. Having backline players who can do that makes a big difference when it comes time to score goals against excellent teams. You have to break them down in creative ways.