A-10 competitive for Minutemen
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It’s been awhile since the Massachusetts men’s soccer team has played an Atlantic 10 team. Last year, the Minutemen won the regular season championship and finished second in the A-10 Tournament.
But the A-10 is much different from last year, and getting back to the top won’t be easy. Here is a look at how the Minutemen’s opponents have fared during their non-conference schedules.
Wins have come at a premium for the Musketeers. The only win Xavier pulled off this season was a 2-0 victory over Marshall on Sept. 26.
The Musketeers have had a hard time scoring, as they are ranked 13th with six goals. Their defense hasn’t been much better either, as it has often taken itself out of games. The best example of that was the Sept. 11 game where Evansville scored four goals against the Musketeers.
Although the offense responded with a goal of its own, it never stood much of a chance at coming back.
If there’s any team that UMass wants to get revenge on this season, it’s the Flyers. However, with the way Dayton has been playing, it won’t be so easy.
UD is on a five-game tear dating back to Sept. 18. During that stint, the Flyers scored 14 of their 17 goals this season. At home, they are even more dangerous, outscoring opponents, 6-0, in their two most recent games at Baujan Field.
Part of Dayton’s success has to do with its keeper situation. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Picard started in two of UD’s losses this season, and has since sat behind freshman Josh Lavallee, who has emerged as one of the A-10’s top keepers.
The Owls are currently on a four-game winning streak after struggling early during non-conference play.
Temple was shut-out three times in September, but more recently has found ways to win games. The Owls aren’t anywhere near as threatening as last season because they aren’t overwhelming opponents as much as they have in the past, but they are no slouch either.
Their most notable win came on Sept. 26 in a 2-1 win over Hartford. But that win was at home, where Temple has a 5-1-1 record at the Ambler Soccer Complex.
On the road, the Owls have yet to win a game.
Saint Joseph’s (0-8)
The Hawks can’t seem to catch a break.
St. Joe’s was held scoreless five times during its non-conference schedule, and the defense hasn’t been much better. The Hawks have been outscored, 10-0, in their last three games.
They are also last in the league in goals (three) and goals allowed (27), with their worst loss of the season coming on Sept. 6 in a 6-0 defeat to UMBC, but the rest of the season has been equally rough.
St. Joseph’s has tried to find some combination of players that will get SJU its first victory of the season, as 18 different players have started this season for the Hawks.
Rhode Island (3-5-1)
The Rams are a team that won’t jump out at anyone, but are capable of surprising some opponents. They have experience against two ranked teams (Dartmouth and Boston University) and despite losing, made both teams work for those victories.
Last season, URI made the A-10 Tournament, putting up two goals in its lost to Dayton, so the Minutemen know the Rams could be better than their record indicates.
Its most recent win came in a 2-1 overtime victory against Yale.
Last season, the Dukes looked nothing like an A-10 Tournament contender. This year, they are one of the conference’s best teams.
At home, the Dukes are undefeated, and will play the first four games of their A-10 schedule in Pittsburgh.
Sophomore Colin Thorp took over mid-season in goal, and has been perfect since allowing four goals in the second half in Maryland’s 7-0 victory over Duquesne. The Dukes have outscored opponents, 7-0, in their last three games since the loss to the Terrapins.
St. Bonaventure (4-4)
The Bonnies’ success rides on the feet of senior Sam Maheu. The forward is second in the A-10 in goals (six), and is playing a critical role in getting SBU to a .500 record.
Maheu has at least one goal in all four of the Bonnies’ wins, and will need his scoring ability if they hope to do well during the A-10 schedule. During SBU’s three-game winning streak, Maheu scored four of the Bonnies seven goals.
However, those wins were also against smaller schools, which didn’t have the defense to contain a solid scorer like Maheu.
Ever since the Duquesne Invitational, the Spiders have been looking for answers with a 1-4 record in their last five games.
One of their biggest problems recently has been the defense, especially in a loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Sept. 15, were the Spiders gave up three goals.
Two games later, William & Mary dropped seven goals on the Spiders. The beginning of their conference schedule does no favors for them either.
Richmond has four straight games on the road, starting with matches against Saint Louis and Charlotte this weekend. The Spiders play their first home game after a month on the road on Oct. 23 against Dayton.
George Washington (6-3)
If GW didn’t have ranked opponents on its schedule, it could consider itself as one of the top teams in the A-10. Forward Andy Stadler leads the conference with eight goals, headlining the Colonials (23 goals) as the top scoring team in the A-10.
Part of what makes Stadler’s contribution to the offense so dangerous is forward Yoni Berhanu (four assists), who gives the Hermann Award nominee-Stadler good opportunities at the goal.
The Colonials are undefeated at home and are well prepared for whatever challenges the A-10 may throw at them, with one of the toughest schedules in the conference.
GW will need to use that experience to its advantage quickly, as it has one of its first conference matches Oct. 11 against No. 15 Charlotte.
Adam Miller can be reached at email@example.com.