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A-10 parity evident in standings

When Atlantic 10 play began for the Massachusetts women’s soccer team last week, the team had won four in a row and was ready to test a conference that UMass coach Ed Matz said had a lot of parity.

The Minutewomen (8-2-2, 2-0-1 A-10) came out of last weekend having extended their unbeaten streak to seven games, defeating and tying Charlotte and Saint Louis, respectively.

UMass is now back at home where its spent much of their time this season. Sitting in third place in the A-10, the squad sad it is ready to face Fordham and La Salle.

However, Matz made clear that what’s in the standings doesn’t always reflect what’s seen on the field.

“It’s extremely difficult to win on your opponent’s field,” said Matz.

The tie against SLU last weekend extended the Billikens’ (4-5-3, 2-0-1 A-10) home unbeaten streak to seven games. However, SLU is winless away from home.

Likewise, the Minutewomen have had similar success at home, not having lost at Rudd Field since Sept. 4 in a 4-1 defeat against Bryant.

“[St. Louis] played some very good teams non-conference,” said Matz. “Charlotte has been one of the best teams in the A-10 for the last four or five years.”

Last year, Charlotte (4-7-3, 1-2-0 A-10) finished with a regular season conference record of 8-1-0, eventually losing to Dayton in the conference tournament championship game.

Looking at the conference as a whole, the parody Matz spoke of is certainly there. Over half of the 14 teams have a winning record as of Oct. 12. The conference includes teams that have as many as 12 wins and teams with as little as two, and almost everything in between.

“You have to play well every single game. I feel that the A-10 as a whole has had a very successful year in women’s soccer,” said Matz.

Three of the A-10’s schools, including UMass, fall within the top 70 teams in the nation.

Among the teams in the A-10, Dayton and La Salle currently rank 21st and 31st in the NCAA Division I RPI rankings, while UMass sits at 68th.

While there is certainly a long way to go in the A-10 schedule, Matz is already aware of how tight things can actually get in-conference. Last year a game between Fordham and UMass decided who went to the A-10 playoffs. The Minutewomen secured the victory and advanced, but Matz said he would imagine the loss still hangs in the heads of the Rams’ players.

“I’m sure that’s in the back of the Fordham player’s minds,” said Matz.

The conference’s parody would look even greater if not for La Salle, which has defeated its A-10 opponents by a score of 15-1 in the first four conference games. The single close game came against Dayton, when the Explorers upset the Flyers 2-1.

As of right now, it’s still apparent that teams aren’t just rolling over for the top-tier teams.

The Flyers, while they currently have a higher national ranking than the Explorers, have played some close in-conference games so far, defeating the likes of Xavier (5-6-1, 0-3-0 A-10) and Fordham each by the score of 2-1.

Ties and games with a difference of only one goal have been plentiful so far this season, two of which came within the last two games UMass played.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at eamansfi@student.umass.edu.

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