After splitting its two games at the Wilson Titan Classic in Fullerton, Calif., the AU men’s soccer team will look to win its first D.C. College Cup since 2009 when the tournament begins Aug. 30 at Reeves Field.
The Eagles will open up play against Howard, who dropped its first two games of 2012. AU has had plenty of success against the Bison in the past, sporting a 12-0-1 record in its last 13 games against them.
“The biggest one is taking care of Thursday’s game,” head coach Todd West said. “If you don’t, you can’t play for the championship on Saturday.”
AU will host George Mason in the second game Sept. 1, and the Patriots have won the past two D.C. College Cups. GMU defeated the Eagles 3-0 last season en route to hoisting the championship.
The Eagles will head into the tournament at 1-1 after winning their season opener against Cal State Fullerton 1-0, before losing 2-1 against Cal State Northridge.
“I was very happy overall with the team’s shape early in the season,” West said. “We moved the ball very well against good competition.”
One player who will be leading the Eagles into this week and beyond is the dynamic Alassane Kane, one of the top goal scorers in the Patriot League.
Both Eagle goals in their first two games came courtesy of Kane, who enters the season as the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
“He can create shots in one-versus-one situations, he can create shots on his own [and] he complements our midfield very well,” West said of Kane.
Cristobal Soto has also had a strong start to the season, and Stephen Hauschild and Dale McDonald are two newcomers who could make an impact this year, according to West.
Soto assisted on one of Kane’s goals and is one of the team’s most experienced players, appearing in 41 of 42 matches in his AU career.
A transfer from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Hauschild started in both of AU’s first two contests and will continue to gel with his teammates as the season progresses.
Forward Dale McDonald will look to give the Eagles another offensive threat after transferring from Northeastern, where he scored three goals and added three assists in 2011.
If the Eagles win this year’s D.C. College Cup, it will be their sixth championship in the 12-year history of the event.
George Mason will take on George Washington in the tournament’s opener Aug. 30 at 2:30 p.m., with the AU-Howard matchup to follow. All D.C. College Cup contests will be played at Reeves Field this year.