George Washington sported a lot of new faces in new places, but the end result was the same old success for the Patriots.
Jonah Cosby scored twice as the defending state champions opened their season with a 5-0 victory over Riverside Friday night in the fog at Trace Fork.
GW, which took the field with no returning starters from the squad that captured the Class AAA title in Beckley last year, held the Warriors to a total of three shots and got goals from four different players.
“A lot of new faces and off to a good start,’’ said Kevin Cushing, GW’s acting coach. “But we’ve got some things to work on.’’
Even the sideline personnel has changed for the Patriots, as veteran coach Tom Hopper is sitting out the season with a medical leave of absence. Hopper, who would have been entering his 15th season, has guided GW to three state titles.
Cushing was asked if the opener produced any extra emotion for the Patriots, owing to Hopper’s absence.
“It’s not something we discussed,’’ he said, “but Tom is going to be with us every moment of every practice and every game the rest of the season. I don’t think we even have to talk about it because we know he’s here.’’
GW used a pair of lightning-quick strikes to score at the beginning of each half. Just 2:01 into the match, Dom Difilippo notched a goal off a deflection, and in the 17th minute that lead grew to 2-0 when Zayd Al-Asadi scored off a feed from Arturo Lopez.
Shortly thereafter fog began rolling in from the sidelines and for about 15 minutes, play in the far corners of the field was impossible to see from midfield. However, the fog thinned soon after, but did reappear in lighter fashion a few times the rest of the way.
Cosby, a transfer from South Charleston, had two of GW’s second-half goals — the first one coming just 35 seconds in with an assist from Will Walker. With 14:46 left to play, Cosby made it 4-0, tapping home a missed shot by Nick Miller that eluded Riverside keeper Noah Underwood.
With 11:23 remaining, the Patriots got their final goal from Patrick Davis.
GW keeper Ryan Childers, who played 70 minutes, combined with Reilly Whisner for the shutout. They needed to stop just two shots.
The Patriots’ lone returning starter, Khegan McLane, is sidelined with a knee injury and isn’t due to return until next month.
Cushing was pleased with the outcome, especially with the quality minutes provided by bench players.
“Honestly, I wasn’t surprised by much,’’ he said. “We knew we had some depth coming off the bench, and I was more pleased with how the depth performed coming off the bench. Some players, the sophomores who hadn’t had any experience before, I was surprised by that — but not tremendously surprised. I was hopeful. After they settled down with the nervousness of being in their first varsity game, they did well.’’
GW outshot Riverside 18-3. Underwood, a freshman, was kept busy in goal for the Warriors and made nine saves.
“He did a good job,’’ said Riverside coach Amy Miller. “He was nervous going out there, but I think he did well and I think he’ll be fine.
“We knew it was going to be a tough night tonight. We tried out some kids in some different positions to see where we need to go and what we need to do. We’ve got a mixture. We’ve got as many seniors as we do freshmen. Hopefully we got the jitters out and we can move forward from here.’’
Cushing was complimentary of the Warriors’ resolve.
“Riverside has improved every year,’’ he said, “and the numbers that Riverside has this year is more than I’ve ever seen, so their coaches are doing a great job developing their program.’’
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.