A-10 Championship Preview: Women’s soccer looks for title to cap undefeated season

Media Credit: Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Freshman Sofia Pavon fights for the ball in the Colonials' overtime victory against George Mason earlier this season.

The Atlantic 10 Championship begins Thursday morning at Davidson for women’s soccer when the top-seeded Colonials take on eighth-seeded George Mason at 11 a.m.

The team was unstoppable during the regular season – posting a perfect 10‒0 mark in A-10 play for the first time in program history – and is the prohibitive favorite in the tournament. But winning three games in four days is no easy task: The Colonials will have to survive the randomness of the postseason if they want to add a tournament championship and NCAA berth to their accomplishments this season.

Here’s our look at who they’d have to go through to win it all.

No. 8 George Mason
The Patriots were one of four A-10 teams to take the Colonials to overtime during the regular season. Sarah Hardison is a strong threat to finish anytime she has the ball, which she has done nine times this season, and her teammates have done a good job setting her up. George Mason ranks fifth in the league in assists per game at 1.39.

The Patriots aren’t a huge threat on either side of the ball but, the way the Colonials play with heavy defense and the lowest number of shots per game in the league, one goal could be enough. George Mason’s biggest chance to pull an upset would come if a player like Hardison could sneak past GW’s backline, but that won’t be easy.

No. 4 VCU or No. 5 Fordham
The battle of the Rams will decide who faces the winner of GW’s game against George Mason on Friday in the semifinals. VCU has the better offense, while Fordham has the edge defensively.

VCU ranks third in the conference in goals per game at 1.68, and they don’t need a ton of shots to do it. VCU succeeds with its finishing ability instead of an offensive barrage, ranking seventh in the A-10 with 13.63 shots per game.

Fordham is less efficient on offense, shooting just a little more often than VCU but scoring less. Fordham is tied exactly with GW at 1.53 goals per game but scores more systematically than by winning man-to-man matchups. Every one of Fordham’s goals has been assisted.

Fordham is the only team besides GW to hold opponents under one goal per game, however. The Rams rank second in the league with a 0.83 goals against average and have shut out opponents 10 times.

The Colonials beat VCU 2‒0 on the road on Oct. 15 and topped Fordham 1‒0 one week later at home on Oct. 22 during the regular season. Given Fordham’s ability to match GW defensive, the Rams would probably be the tougher matchup.

No. 2 Dayton
The Colonials could meet No. 2-seed Dayton, No. 3 Saint Joseph’s, No. 6 La Salle or No. 7 Duquesne in the finals should they make it there, but it’s the Flyers who would pose the biggest threat.

GW and Dayton have not played this season, but their styles would make for an interesting matchup. Dayton has the highest-powered offense in the A-10, averaging 2.26 goals per game on 18.05 shots per game, certainly a test for GW’s defensive-minded game.

Just like Dayton ranks first in every team offensive category, Ashley Campbell is the individual leader in the A-10 in almost every offensive statistic. She takes nearly five shots per game and has scored 16 goals this season. Nicole Waters, who is tops in the A-10 with 17 assists and leads the nation in assists per game, often sets her up.

Should both teams make it to Sunday, GW-Dayton would be a finals matchup to hope for given the drama of competing styles. Should it happen, it would give the Colonials a chance to complete their ascendance to the top of the A-10 by knocking off last year’s champions.

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