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Dayton, Charlotte favorites to win Atlantic 10 Tournament

The Atlantic 10 women’s soccer schedule, which began in late September, needed every last game to determine who would be in or out in this year’s tournament.

Headlining the field is Dayton, who enters the tournament unbeaten in thirty games dating back to last year, posting 14 shutouts along the way. The Flyers (14-0-5, 10-0-1 A-10) have let up five goals, good for fewest in the nation.

On top of that, Dayton’s offensive numbers are staggering, outshooting the opposition, 446-127. The Flyers average 2.16 goals per game compared to the opponents’ 0.26. Much of the stark statistical contrasts can be credited to Dayton’s top five players, who all have at least four goals and nine points.

Leading its high-powered offense are Mandi Back and Lauren MacCormick, who each have eight goals and six assists.

In goal for Dayton is freshman Katherine Boone, who posted a 0.22 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage, and a league leading 12 shutouts.

To say that this team will be hard to beat is an understatement.

Charlotte is another force to be reckoned with in the tournament, which is seeking its third straight A-10 Championship title. The 49ers finished the regular season with 29 points, two fewer than Dayton’s mark.

Like the Flyers, the 49ers own a huge advantage in scoring categories across the board this season. Look for that trend to continue in Charlotte’s first game, when it will face the highest remaining seed from the opening round.

Leading the 49ers are Whitney Weinraub and Hailey Beam, who accounted for 62 of the team’s 164 points. Weinraub’s 32 points leads the conference, while Beam’s 30 is good for second best. The one-two punch of these two is hard to ignore, as they have both averaged over 1.5 points per game.

Both Dayton and Charlotte received first round byes, and a meeting between the two teams in the championship game would be of no surprise.

The rest of the field will play in the opening round on Thursday, with the first match scheduled for 5:30 between No. 3 Fordham and No. 6 Massachusetts.

The winner of that game is very hard to predict. The Rams  defeated the Minutewomen in overtime, 3-2, in their only other meeting this season. Both teams were statistically even as the match appeared to be headed for a tie. However, a costly UMass turnover in overtime led to a one-on-one goal against UMass goalkeeper Emily Cota, who didn’t stop the shot.

Should Fordham win, it will go on to face Charlotte. Should UMass win, it will go on to face Dayton. Fordham and UMass will be the underdogs in either scenario.

Following the Fordham and UMass game will be No. 4 St. Bonaventure at No. 5 Saint Louis.

The Bonnies (10-10-0, 7-4-0 A-10) enter the tournament 3-3 in their previous six games, losing their last against Fordham, 2-0. They are slight favorites to defeat the Billikens because of a 1-0 victory they enjoyed during the regular season. Leading St. Bonaventure is Courtney Bosse, whose eight goals and 17 points lead the team. By no means is she shy to shoot, registering 50 shots on goal over the season.

It is unknown who the winning team of this match will go on to play because it depends on the outcome of the UMass and Fordham match.

Although a Dayton/Charlotte Championship showdown is foreseeable, upsets are not uncommon in the A-10. This tournament represents the most important point of the season for every team, nobody wants to go out quietly.

Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

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