A-10 preview: Men’s soccer regains footing, carries upward momentum to conference

Media Credit: File Photo by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Freshman midfielder Alhaji Turay holds the ball away from a Binghamton defender during a men's soccer game last week.

Updated: Sept. 27, 2018 at 1:42 p.m.

Men’s soccer is picking up momentum on both sides of the pitch heading into Atlantic 10 play.

The Colonials (4-3-1) have picked up wins against NJIT and Binghamton and played No. 15 Duke to a draw in the Colonials’ last three outings. In the past two matches, the Colonials have headed into extra minutes.

GW opened the season totaling nine goals in wins against Stony Brook and American in August.

But heading into the game against NJIT, the Colonials were carrying a three-game losing streak that saw their high-powered offense net just one goal.

Turning the tide in their last three games, GW found the back of the net four times while conceding two goals. The Colonials battled No. 15 Duke to a 0–0 draw Tuesday to conclude nonconference play.

GW is seventh in the conference just behind Saint Louis (3-1-3) and ahead of both Davidson and VCU (4-4). Rhode Island (6-1) and Saint Joseph’s (6-3) currently sit atop the A-10 heading into conference play.

The Colonials have managed to keep every game close this season – seven of their eight games have been decided by one goal or fewer.

The Colonials are fourth in the A-10 with 1.75 goals per game and their 14 total goals place them fourth among conference competition and seven off from Saint Joseph’s 21.

GW has not been as solid on the other end of the field. They are tenth in the A-10, giving up an average of one goal per game. But in the Colonials’ last three games they have only conceded two goals. The team’s defense is anchored by senior goalkeeper Thor Arne Höfs. After leading the A-10 with 93 saves last season, Höfs is filling up the stat sheet again in 2018 with 38 saves, the most in the conference. He made nine saves alone in GW’s double-overtime draw with Duke Tuesday.

Sophomore forward Oscar Haynes Brown leads the A-10 with eight goals, three more than any other player, and he has been the beneficiary of strong passing as junior midfielder Drini Redzepi and sophomore defender Joshua Yurasits lead the A-10 with four assists each.

Ahead of A-10 play, here is a look at a few conference rivals the Colonials will face.

Davidson (4-4-0):
The Wildcats are looking to reassert themselves into the conference’s elite after missing the A-10 tournament in three consecutive seasons. The Wildcats have struggled to score this season and average only 1.12 goals per game but have recently found a groove, scoring six goals in their past three games. Davidson has been able to make up for their lack of offensive production with a stout defense, only allowing teams to score more than one goal twice this season. The matchup between the Colonials’ offense and the stingy Wildcat defense will be a test for both teams when GW opens conference play against the team Saturday.

St. Bonaventure (3-3-1):
St. Bonaventure lost 4–1 to VCU in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament last season and are looking to make it back to the tournament this year. The Bonnies have struggled to find the back of the net, scoring more than one goal in just a single match of their seven so far this season. St. Bonaventure is last in the A-10 averaging .86 goals per game, and their defense has not been much better, letting up 1.29 goals per game, good for tenth in the conference. But the Bonnies have pulled out wins with timely scoring late in matches. The Colonials need to jump out to an early lead to keep the St. Bonaventure offense at bay when they host the Bonnies Oct. 10.

VCU (4-4-0):
VCU heads into the conference season with high expectations after losing to Massachusetts in the A-10 Championship finals. The Rams have struggled with consistency early in the year. All of VCU’s wins have been shutouts but all their losses have also left them with zero on the board. The Rams have given up 1.5 goals per game, while scoring 1.5 goals per game, but the team heads into A-10 with momentum after upsetting No. 20 Old Dominion 4–0 last week. GW has been one of the highest scoring teams in the A-10 and may be able to capitalize on an inconsistent Rams defense when they face-off Oct. 13.

Fordham (4-1-2):
The Rams will rely on senior experience heading into A-10 play. Fordham was unable to defend its 2016 conference title after suffering a heartbreaking 1–0 overtime loss to Massachusetts in the semifinals of the A-10 tournament last season. The Rams have looked strong, only losing one game so far in the 2018 season. Fordham has been solid in close games, going 2-0-2 in four overtime matches, due in large part to senior goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu. Nuhu is second in the A-10 with .75 goals against average and third in save percentage at .783. GW will be tested by one of the best goalkeepers when the Colonials visit Fordham Oct. 17.

Massachusetts (4-3-2):
The Minutemen are the defending A-10 champions and have been solid in 2018. The team is fourth in the conference for goals per game with 1.67 and allowing only one goal per game. But the team has been beatable despite their impressive statistics. The three losses tallied so far are almost equal to their four total losses last year and the team would have to go 11-1-1 to match their 2017 record. On offense the Minutemen have tallied 15 goals so far in the season, leaving GW just one off from their total. With both teams’ offense and defense producing equal numbers, the Colonials are in position to beat the Minutemen for the first time since 2015 when they face-off in the regular season finale Oct. 31.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Fordham’s overtime record was 2-2-0. Fordham’s overtime record is 2-0-2. We regret this error.

 

 

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