When it came to choosing a college, freshman soccer player Brice Carr had a lot of options.
A native of Milwaukee, Carr spent his senior year of high school at the prestigious IMG Academy soccer program in Bradenton, Fla., - the same place that produced U.S. soccer stars Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Freddy Adu. When he was done, his recruiters read like a who's who of college soccer: Defending national champions Wake Forest, third-ranked Notre Dame and perennial powerhouse North Carolina all clamored for Carr's services. Even Spain's Real Madrid showed interest in adding him to their youth team.
Meet the Colonials' newest starting defender.
"I visited (GW), loved the school, but the main thing was that I could play right away," Carr said. "(Other programs) have so many really talented players that you might not play till your junior year - I want to go pro after college, so it's nice to get in, play right away and do my business."
Carr represents a few trends that will affect the fortunes of the 2008 Colonials men's soccer team. He plays defense, where the Colonials will look to improve after giving up nearly two goals per game last season. And he is a freshman, one of six newcomers to the Colonials squad.
"We've changed a lot over the past couple of years," said junior Andy Stadler, the team's returning leading scorer. "The past few years we were playing a lot more direct - just kicking it and running. This year we're focusing more on possession and playing a more technical game."
It's a new focus that will bring changes not only in training but on the field as well. This year, after playing several years in a standard 4-4-2 formation, the Colonials will switch to a 4-5-1, with two defensive midfielders supporting two attacking midfielders on either wing.
By reducing the number of strikers the team uses, the switch will encourage short, controlled passing and patient midfield play to create even more scoring chances than before. The squad will welcome back Stadler, a preseason A-10 All-Conference selection this year, and fellow junior Erick Perez-Segnini, a midfielder who chipped in five goals and six assists last season.
"We're going to try to keep the ball and also play the counter-attack. It can become an attacking formation," head coach George Lidster said. "I thought we let in some soft goals last year. And with the fact that we're a younger team this year (and) we're playing on the road a lot, we have to keep more behind the ball."
The road through the 2008 season will be a long one, literally. The Colonials will play just five of their 17 games this season at home, four of which come during conference play.
"It's going to be tough, but I think that as long as we keep playing well, it doesn't matter if we're home or away," Stadler said. "If we're playing well I think we can beat just about anyone."