With four conference games left to play, men’s soccer sits on the cusp of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
The Colonials (3–9–1, 1–3 A-10) rank at No. 9 in the conference, just outside the top eight teams to make the tournament. Head coach Craig Jones and players said the squad’s lack of goal scoring and inconsistent play have been a thorn in its side all season, but the team has the ability to slip back into tournament contention.
On the season, the Colonials have netted just eight goals and allowed their competitors to score 18 goals against them. The team averages .62 goals per game, ranking them No. 12 in the A-10. The squad allows an average of 1.38 goals per game, making them good for seventh in the conference.
Jones said the team’s lack of scoring stems from having no “natural goalscorer.” He added that the Colonials have played stronger defense, but it hasn’t been enough to carry them through tight games.
“We’re putting ourselves in position to score and putting ourselves in positions to win,” Jones said. “But when you don’t have a natural goalscorer, which we’re struggling to find right now, then it’s going to be tough. That’s why the games are close, because we’re a decent group defending but we’ve got to score.”
Injury relegated junior midfielder and forward Oscar Haynes Brown, who netted a team-leading 11 goals last season, to the sidelines for most of the season. He saw action in just one game this season, recording one shot on 25 minutes of play.
Jones said he tested freshman forward Liam Emson and junior midfielder Matthew Brummet as finishers at the net. But in 1,162 minutes, the two have combined for zero goals on 32 shots.
“We’ve tried to basically turn guys into forwards and as much as we’ve tried to do it, it’s looked OK,” Jones said. “But again, we’re asking a lot of guys who it’s not their natural talent.”
One goal stood between winning and losing six times for men’s soccer this season — the most one-goal games through 13 matches since 2015. Four of those games have been conference matchups.
The Colonials dropped their first two conference games 1–0 to Rhode Island and 2–1 against George Mason Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, respectively. They hit the road and downed St. Bonaventure 1–0 Oct. 9 before losing to Duquesne 1–0 Oct. 12.
Jones said the Colonials played consistently against the Bonnies for 90 minutes, a feat the team hasn’t achieved often throughout the season.
“It was a great defensive performance, great goal to win it, but we’ve got to do it for 90 minutes,” Jones said. “The problem throughout the season is we’re not quite doing that. We’re taking some plays off and it’s hurting us.”
The win against the Bonnies also snapped the team’s five-game losing streak – its longest skid in nine years. Senior defender Reese Moore called the victory the “biggest win” of the season.
“That’s our biggest win this season considering if we didn’t win that we would be in a very, very rough spot, and right now we’re actually not in that bad of a spot,” Moore said. “It all rests in our hands and we can control where we go from here.”
Moore added that the A-10 breeds close games because of its physical and competitive nature against opponents.
“We would love to score first and try and hold that lead because a lot of A-10 are 1–0 games, 2–1 games – usually a one-goal difference wins it,” Moore said.
The Colonials have accumulated scoring opportunities, hammering 174 shots, taking 62 corner kicks and tying for an A-10 leading three penalty kicks. Graduate student midfielder and forward Haukur Hilmarsson said hesitation and a lack of commitment has prevented the Colonials from capitalizing on the scoring opportunities.
“We just need to be more committed in the box and really throw ourselves into the chances,” Hilmarsson said. “Right now, we’re hesitant and that’s showing because we’re not getting the goals we want.”
In their next matchup, the Colonials will be without senior defender Colin Anderson after he suffered an injury in their 1–0 defeat to Howard Oct. 15. Graduate student midfielder Alexy Boehm will also sit on the sidelines after being suspended for picking up his fifth yellow card.
Hilmarsson said the team is united on the field and playing for one another, but not many wins have been in the cards for the Colonials.
“We’re always fighting for each other,” Hilmarsson said. “We always run for each other. We always give it our all, but sometimes it just doesn’t fall for you. And unfortunately, we’ve had too many of those days this season.”
The Colonials return to action Saturday against Davidson for senior night. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.