Musketeers knock off No. 5 Rams, clinch playoff spot

By Patrick Keller

Fordham welcomed Xavier to the Bronx on Sunday for Senior Day in hopes that it would be heading to its fourth straight Atlantic 10 Championship. However, Xavier’s two goals in the final 20 minutes forcefully denied them their bid en route to a 2-1 victory.

After a scoreless first half, the Rams struck first in the 60th minute when freshman forward Julian Nagel netted his second goal of the season, a header off across from midfielder John McHugh.

The Musketeers mounted a comeback in the final 20 minutes that would end up propelling them into the Atlantic 10 Championship. Luke Spencer scored the equalizer and his team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 72nd minute off a corner kick from James Getzen.

Xavier grabbed the lead in the 83rd minute, as senior El-Hadji Dieng scored off a rebound from about 15 yards out for his second tally of the season. The Rams desperately tried to get the equalizer in the closing minutes but could not convert on opportunities.

In net, Fordham’s Ryan Meara recorded three saves in the loss, while Justin Marshall made three saves in the win.

As a result of the game, the Rams dropped to 10-8 overall and 5-4 in the Atlantic 10 while the Musketeers improved to 8-6-3 overall and 5-4 in conference play.

According to other results on the day, Fordham found themselves in a three-way tie for the final Atlantic 10 playoff spot with Xavier and Massachusetts, but lost out to Xavier on the tie-breaker.

If history is any indication, then the Musketeers have reason to be optimistic. Although they will be the last seed in the tournament, the six teams will have a clean slate and the regular season champion of the Atlantic 10 hasn’t won the conference tourney since 2005 when Rhode Island won.

The first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship will be held on November 11-12, where the Musketeers will be looking ruin another team’s playoff hopes, just as they did to Fordham.

A-10 bracket set

The A-10 playoff field has been set, headed by the No. 18 Charlotte 49ers.

The 49ers finished the regular season with an 8-1 conference record and a 13-5 record overall, allowing Charlotte to capture its first regular-season title in school history.

The 49ers will be making a run for its first A-10 crown and is making its fifth appearance in the event since joining the A-10 in 2005-2006.

The league champs will head into the tournament on an astounding streak, having won 10 of their last 11 matches.

La Salle (8-6-3, 6-2-1 A-10) will enter the tournament as the second seed behind the 49ers, also earning a first-round bye. The Explorers will be making a fourth A-10 playoff appearance and first in the last four years while still in search of their first championship.

Both Charlotte and La Salle earned first round byes and will play the lowest and highest remaining seeds, respectively in the semifinals on Nov. 12.

Temple (8-8-2, 6-3-0 A-10) looks to claim its first A-10 championship as the third seed while St. Bonaventure (10-7-1, 5-3-1 A-10) picked up the fourth seed.

The Owls will make their eighth appearance in the event, its first since 2008 while the Bonnies make their second-straight trip to the championship, the third in program history.

Defending A-10 Champion Saint Louis (8-6-3, 5-3-1 A-10) will be making its program’s sixth-straight appearance in the tournament. The Billikens, who will be the fifth seed this year, have reached the tournament each year since its entrance into the league in 2005.

Xavier (8-6-3, 5-4-0 A-10) will be the sixth seed in the tournament and will be making its third appearance in the A-10 Championship.

The playoffs will begin on Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. where No. 3 Temple will play No. 6 Xavier at Transamerica Field, followed by a match-up between No. 4 St. Bonaventure and No.5 Saint Louis at 8:00 p.m.

SLU prepares title defense

The defending A-10 champion SLU claimed the fifth seed in this year’s A-10 tournament.

The Billikens are unbeaten in their last five games and will enter the tournament with an 8-6-3 overall record including a 5-3-1conference record. During that stretch they have outscored opponents 11-3. The Billikens tied for fourth with the St. Bonaventure, but lost out on a head-to-head tiebreaker.

SLU helped its case for a playoff bid with a 1-0 win over Rhode Island on Friday. Alex Johnston scored the lone goal off of a pass from teammate Chad Vandegriffe, his first tally of the season.

On Sunday, the Billikens needed either a win or a tie against Massachusetts to clinch a spot for the A-10 tournament. It kept its season alive after rallying from a two-goal deficit to tie 2-2.

Johnston scored his second goal of the season with a header off of a pass from teammate Alex Sweetin. With 10 minutes remaining, Sito Sasieta recorded his first goal of his career with a header off a cross from Mike Roach.

The Billikens lead their series against St. Bonaventure with a 3-1 record. The Bonnies will be making their second consecutive appearance in the A-10 tournament and third overall.

SLU hopes history repeats itself as it looks to defend its A-10 crown beginning on Nov. 11 at 8:00 p.m. at Transamerica Field.

Patrick Keller can be reached at [email protected]