With a new coach, a new style and a new attitude, the George Washington University men's soccer team is 9-3-3 and in the hunt for its first NCAA tournament berth since 1978.
The Colonials are the surprise of the area, pulling off mild upsets over American and Maryland and tying 11th-ranked William and Mary. After starting the season with a 1-3-1 record, they are unbeaten in their last 10 games (8-0-2).
"We're on a bit of a roll," first-year Colonials Coach George Lidster said. "I was hoping for a .500 season and I knew we'd have to do well to make it. Everything is a bonus at the moment."
Virginia, William and Mary and Loyola are almost certain to receive South Atlantic region bids in two weeks. George Washington, Old Dominion, George Mason, American and Maryland want the fourth spot.
"It's a long shot for a bid," Lidster said. "If we win our last four games, we have a chance."
The Colonials defeated Furman, 2-0, and Cleveland State, 4-1, the last two days to win the Stetson (Fla.) tournament.
Lidster, 33, was George Mason's assistant in 1984-86 and replaced Tony Vecchione, now AU's assistant. But Lidster, who is from Durham, England, had visa problems and didn't take the full coaching duties until the first week of the season.
After first-month losses to Old Dominion, Navy and George Mason, the Colonials adapted to Lidster's playing style and won area matches that they'd lost in past years. When GW beat American on Oct. 7, it was the first time the Colonials had beaten the Eagles since 1978.
"Since I've been here, we've always bordered on being a contender," said fullback Orville Reynolds, one of three seniors. "We'd always win the games we'd have to and we'd lose to the good teams."
Reynolds and others attribute the turnaround to Lidster's liberal style, which gives the players more freedom to improvise.
"Last year, it was more structured, like a textbook," said forward Paul Boulad, who has five goals and a team-high 11 assists. "We have more freedom to do what we want. We're not reluctant to try something different."
Boulad and junior Kenny Emson (12 goals and one assist) have done the bulk of the scoring for GW (2-0 in the Atlantic 10). Boulad's 11 ties GW's all-time record set by Emson last year.
"Kenny and Bruce have formed a fine partnership," Lidster said. "They're like little kids on the field. They're having a lot of fun."
Despite being moved to defense this year, Reynolds has scored four goals to give him 26 in his career. Sophomore Bruce Heon from Alexandria's Washington-Lee High School has been a surprise at midfield with one goal and six assists.
Before the season, Lidster's biggest concern was with his goalkeepers. Sophomore Harry Bargmann played only four games last year (then-senior Glenn Hughes started 14 games) and came back to school out of shape. Yet, after a slow start, Bargmann has been sharp, recording five shutouts and a 1.1 goals-against average.
"Harry didn't look sharp in preseason," Lidster said. "He didn't seem that interested. But he turned around completely and has done very well."
In front of Bargmann, the Colonials' defense has played well, despite inexperience. Reynolds played forward last year and freshman Chris Koczan, sophomore Adrian Harris and junior Brian Hoppy played little in 1986.
"There were games last year that we knew we wouldn't win," said Bargmann, who has allowed one goal in the last four games. "We just tried not to lose. But this year we want to win. We know we can win any game."
Monmouth 1, Georgetown 0:
Dave Spishak scored at 31:17 in Monmouth, N.J., tagging the Hoyas (6-9) with their seventh one-goal loss this season. They played without four starters, who are hurt. Monmouth is 6-10.
American 12, Frostburg State 0:
Frode Willumsen scored three goals, and John Kostelis and Jon Hall scored two as the Eagles shut out the Bobcats (6-6-2) at American. The Eagles (8-5-2) led at halftime, 3-0.
The Georgetown men's team successfully defended its Big East title in Boston's Franklin Park with a score of 33 points. Providence was second with 61 and Pittsburgh was third with 85.
Joe Rocha of Boston College won the individual title in 23:57 on the five-mile course. Georgetown sophomore John Trautmann was second in 24:34.