Atlantic 10 preview: Men’s soccer looks to peak in conference play

Media Credit: File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore forward Christian Lawal moves up the field in the Colonials' win against Robert Morris.

The men’s soccer team is still treading water.

After three straight losses and five straight road games to start the 2015 campaign, GW (3‒5‒0) has recently flashed signs of potential. In their home opener, the Colonials took care of business against Loyola, winning 1‒0 off of a first-half goal from the forward weapon Garrett Heine. Against top-25 ranked UMBC, GW took a commanding 2‒0 lead but was unable to hold on and the 2014 College Cup participant UMBC scored three unanswered goals to defeat the Colonials, 3‒2. But on Friday afternoon, GW scored four goals in the opening 26 minutes in a 4‒1 rout over Robert Morris. Heine notched the first multi-goal game of his career, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist.

In the early going, Heine has kept this season afloat: he leads the Atlantic 10 with three game-winning goals, as he has netted the game-winner in all three of GW’s victories this season. Heine ranks second in the Atlantic 10 in goals (5), goals per game (0.62), points (13) and points per game (1.62).

As a team, the Colonials rank third in the Atlantic 10 with 1.38 goals per game after netting seven markers in the last three contests. GW is also third in the league with 12 assists and 34 points on the season.

So now, heading into league play Saturday at Davidson, the Colonials need to focus to make sure their season does not sink. Fortunately for them, there’s no question that the A-10 is up for grabs. Since 2007, there has been a new regular season champion and no team has gone undefeated or untied in conference play since 1993.

Rhode Island captured the regular season championship last year, but No. 6 seed Fordham made a miraculous run in the postseason to capture the tournament title.

Now, even though URI and Fordham have their bright spots returning, teams like St. Louis and VCU will definitely be on the map when tournament time comes around. So, here is a look at each of these teams and what they could do to GW’s hopes of conference success this fall:

Fordham (2‒4‒3):
Coming off their stellar end-of-season run last fall, when the Rams captured the 2014 Atlantic 10 conference championship, expectations were high for the 2015 season; instead, Fordham has been rather inconsistent in non-conference play, closing it out with a 3‒0 loss to Lehigh.

However, Fordham has returned many of their key players and should be poised for a run at the A-10 once again.

URI (5‒4‒1):
The runner-up and 2014 regular season champions, Rhode Island was picked second in the preseason coaches poll. After a historic turnaround in which the Rams went from winless in conference play two seasons ago to first place in the league in 2014, URI returns seven starters, including freshman All-American goalie and Rookie of the Year Nils Leifhelm.

St. Louis (4‒2):
For the third straight season, Saint Louis was voted first in the A-10 preseason poll. The Billikens return 2014 A-10 Midfielder of the Year David Graydon and goalkeeper Sascha Otte, an A-10 all-rookie team selection and Tyler David, a second team all-conference selection. Ranked No. 22 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national preseason rankings, the Billikens will look to make its third NCAA appearance in four years, after falling to Louisville, 2‒1, in last year’s second round. SLU also welcomes three freshmen named to the preseason all-rookie team.

VCU (2‒6‒1):
Although this may be surprising to some, VCU could be poised for a successful 2015 campaign.

The Rams were solid in conference play last year and squeezed the life out of opposing offenses ‒ while also playing a challenging non-conference schedule (something VCU is doing again in 2015). Although they have found early season struggles, VCU will be a tough matchup for teams in the heart of the season and certainly a tough out, come tournament time.

All records as of Wednesday, Sept. 30.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.