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March 22, 2017

Minutemen try to keep A-10 tourney chances alive

Last weekend, two Massachusetts teams (field hockey and women’s soccer) looked nearly out of their sport’s Atlantic 10 Tournament with two must-win games and a few chips to fall in their favor.

Men’s soccer coach Sam Koch and his team are hoping to duplicate the success of UMass’ counterparts this weekend, as it is scheduled to play Richmond and George Washington on the road.

“Anything can happen, and we know anything can happen,” Koch said of his team’s hopes of getting into the A-10 Tournament.

The Minutemen (6-6-3, 3-4-0 A-10) aren’t in as much of a difficult scenario as either Minutewomen team was, since both had to win both games just for the possibility of making the tournament. Koch and Co., on the other hand, are three points out, and looking at a much tighter scenario, where they could finish anywhere between third and 12th depending on this weekend.

As much as the rest of the A-10 will affect the postseason chances of UMass, Koch can only worry about his team. 

“We just got to take care of our own business and see how the other teams do,” Koch said. “That’s the only thing we can worry about, because we have to let other people do other things.”

The first game this weekend is on Friday against the Spiders (5-9-2, 2-3-3 A-10).

The Minutemen have been inconsistent during the A-10 schedule, as they have yet to put together a winning or losing streak. The only constant in the conference schedule is UMass’ tendency to play close games.

Five of the six matches during the A-10 schedule were decided by a goal. If the Minutemen are going to win on Friday, it will have to be with the same defense that kept opponents’ scoring to a minimum.

Richmond has struggled throughout the season, although it recently pulled off wins over Dayton and Xavier at home.

Last weekend, the Spiders lost to the Colonials, 1-0, on Oct. 31. Although their record hasn’t been stellar, Koch says they have played a lot better recently, and still should be considered a serious threat.

“They’ve got a new coach and kind of a bit of a different style,” Koch said. “They’re going to be low pressure, but very similar to Fordham.”

Richmond is eighth in the A-10 for scoring with 19 goals; however it has a tendency to give up a lot of goals, which hinders its ability to win.

The Spiders (30 goals) allowed three times as many goals as the Minutemen (10) this season, and are near the bottom of the conference in defense.

Richmond has a dynamic scorer in freshman Houston Oldham who, despite his inexperience, has four goals on the season.

On Sunday, the Minutemen take on GW (9-7-0, 3-4-0 A-10), who Koch describes as a physical team. The Colonials are also one of the top scoring offenses in the conference, led by senior Andy Stadler (nine goals), who is second in the A-10 for scoring.

As a team, GW has a total of 30 goals for the season, twice as many as UMass.

The Colonials are currently tied for ninth place with the Minutemen with nine points. GW will play Rhode Island on Friday, and could potentially create a scenario where the winner goes to the tournament if both teams win on Friday.

However, before that scenario can happen, Koch knows UMass needs a win on Friday before his team can think about Sunday.

Adam Miller can be reached at amiller@dailycollegian.com.

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