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Men's soccer falls short of A-10 tourney

La Salle’s men’s soccer team split this weekend’s series, with the loss in the season finale keeping the Explorers out of the Atlantic 10 tournament. The team needed two victories for a shot at postseason play, but only made it halfway.

The two-game road set began on a good note, with La Salle overcoming the Richmond Spiders 2-0 on Friday. Junior Kevin Lydic snuck a goal in with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. Junior Brian Barry and senior Devin Ladd assisted the goal to give the Explorers a lead going into the intermission.

Just less than 10 minutes into the second half, senior Jeremy Ortiz gave La Salle an insurance goal off passes from Barry and junior Daniel Heavey. The goal was just the third of Ortiz’s frustrating senior campaign, in which he was the main focus of defenses from the first game to the last. The returning First Team A-10 selection had scored six goals in each of his previous two seasons.

Junior goalkeeper Andrew Bernhard made five saves en route to registering his second shutout of the season.

With momentum on their side, the Explorers headed to our nation’s capital to take on George Washington in the final game of the season. The team’s postseason hopes would be crushed by GW, as the Colonials jumped ahead with a goal in the fifth minute and never lost the lead on the way to a 2-1 victory.

After GW added another goal, Lydic drew the Explorers within one with a goal in the 38th minute. Ladd and freshman Ryan Richter assisted on the goal. With one minute remaining, La Salle put one in the net that was called back on an offsides call. Head coach Pat Farrell described the agony of seeing the flag in the air after the goal.

“It’s hard because you get really emotional because you thought you tied the game and were going to overtime,” Farrell said. “But the side linesman decided that we were offsides and called it back.”

A solid defensive effort from the Colonials ended the Explorers’ season, which was marred by inconsistency. The team struggled through a five-game losing streak that spilled over into conference play, but rebounded with a three-game winning streak in A-10 games earlier this season. In the end, La Salle could not maintain any stability.

“It’s always good to be consistent, and we had to develop a rhythm and we had to rally in these last few weeks, and we started to get some results,” Farrell said. “It’s a hard lesson when you give 100 percent and it doesn’t happen for you.”

Farrell was disappointed with the result on Sunday, but was thankful for the opportunity to preside over this group.

“You don’t want it to end, but you want to celebrate what the guys that have been here for four years have accomplished, both on the field and in the classroom,” Farrell said.

The team has a long road ahead of them before next season, and will have to see some underclassmen step into major roles next season. The departure of Ortiz and fellow seniors Joe Heavey, Michael Lehr, Walter McMahon and Geoff Schaeffer will take its toll on La Salle next season, and new leaders will need to emerge.

Lydic and Richter look poised to take on the challenge, as they shared the team-high in goals this season, with five. The former had four goals last season and will become an offensive leader next year.

“Lydic did well for us last season, too, and he’ll continue to improve and bump it up to another level next season,” Farrell said. “And Richter, he had a real strong year and demonstrated to us that he’s capable of playing at a high level.”

Barry, who has led the team in assists the last two seasons, and fellow junior Jim Davis, who has started every game of his collegiate career, also will need to assume leadership roles. Aside from the first A-10 game, Bernhard played every minute of the conference schedule. He too will be an important piece on next year’s team. Still, Farrell wished he had one more day with this crew.

“It’s hard,” Farrell said. “You want to delay saying goodbye to the guys you’ve had for four years. A lot of the foundation of this team was laid by these guys, and they’ll always be a part of this program and this team.”


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