A few weeks ago, all looked good for the Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer team. They were undefeated in conference play (4-0) with their eyes set on a high seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament (which starts Thursday in Kingston, Rhode Island). Not only that, but they were riding the strength of a six-game winning streak. Everything was clicking.
Then the bottom fell out. On October 14, they lost 2-1 to a talented La Salle team that’s favored by many to win the A-10 tournament crown. They haven’t won since then, going 0-4-1 in their last five and sneaking into the top 8 on the strength of a tiebreaker.
Ironically, it’s the Explorers that provide the Niners with their first test at 11 am. A win in that match should give them a load of confidence heading into Friday’s semifinal match against either Butler or St. Bonaventure. But anything can happen, and who knows–Charlotte may pull an upset out of its hat.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the field:
1. La Salle (8-0-1)
The Explorers are the only undefeated team in the conference, the reason behind their regular season championship. They’ve scored 35 goals (second to Dayton in the league) and have allowed 20, third lowest in the conference.
Keep an eye on: Kelsey Haykook (eight goals); Renee Washington (six goals); Anna Dolhansky (five goals); Leigh Gray (four).
2. Dayton (7-1-1)
In our opinion, the Flyers are the team to beat. Their offense is easily the most powerful (54 goals this season)–their opponents this weekend will definitely have their hands full stopping the high scoring trio of senior (and offensive player of the year) Colleen Williams, junior Juliana Libertin and rookie of the year Ashley Campbell.
Keep an eye on: Colleen Williams (17 goals); Juliana Libertin and Ashley Campbell (11 goals).
3. VCU (6-2-1)
The Rams were the only team to beat Dayton in conference and might have the best shot out of the two teams at the top to win. They have that perfect mix of offense (30 goals) and defense (0.74 GAA–tied with Butler for best in the league) that can help them make noise.
Keep an eye on: Courtney Conrad (10 goals); Wendy Acosta (9 goals); Cristin Granados (6 goals)
4. Butler (5-1-3)
Another sleeper, the Bulldogs don’t score a ton of goals, but their top-ranked defense is definitely capable of shutting things down. Just ask the Niners, who had a taste of that on Sunday.
Keep an eye on: Sophia Maccagnone (11 goals)
5. St. Bonaventure (5-4-0)
The Bonnies rank in the lower half of the league in goals scored and are the worst in goals allowed–so the matchup against Butler’s stingy D is quite unfavorable.
Keep an eye on: Shannon Van Riper (5 goals); Brittany Charles (eight assists)
6. Saint Joseph’s (4-2-3)
The Hawks have the fifth ranked defense in the league (1.04 GAA), but their lack of scoring may do them in, especially against VCU’s top scoring three in the first round.
Keep an eye on: Mo Hawkins (eight goals)
7. UMass (4-4-1)
The Minutewomen were blown out by Dayton (4-1) in their regular season matchup–don’t expect much of a different result this time around in the first round of the tournament.
Keep an eye on: Moa Mattsson (11 goals)
Four Niners were given all-conference honors. Amanda Jones (seven goals, five assists) was named to the second team, while Maddie Kiebel was an all-rookie team selection (one goal, two assists). Alex Kubrick and Sarah Ann Waugh were All-Academic Team selections.