While the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team is the top seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament (beginning Thursday in the Queen City), the conference is very top heavy. The top four seeds combined (Charlotte, Saint Louis, Xavier and VCU) have a combined overall record of 49-9-12 (26-5-5 in conference play). We’re positive coach Kevin Langan and his team are leaving absolutely nothing to chance in the most critical stretch of games they have played so far this year–games that will tell us a lot about them as well as where the selection committee will slate them come Monday afternoon.
2nd seed: #15 Xavier
At a glance: The Musketeers have the most potent offense in the conference (42 goals, 146 points, 2.56 goals per game) as well as a stellar defense (4th in the conference at 0.94 GAA).
Watch out for: Luke Spencer, who is tied for the league lead in goals with Jason Johnson (13), while Matt Walker, Gino De Paoli and Adar Cohen (26 assists combined) have a knack for setting up plays for their strikers.
Key results: Saint Louis, at Virginia (draw)
Last time the Niners played Xavier…November 10 of last year in the A-10 quarterfinals, a 2-1 overtime win for the X-men.
3rd seed: #19 VCU
At a glance: The Rams aren’t far behind X in offense (38 goals, 109 points, 2.24 GPG–all third in the league) and defense (1.06 GAA, fifth).
Watch out for: The aforementioned Jason Johnson (13 goals) is giving Xavier’s Spencer a run for his money for the league’s offensive player of the year award; outside of that goal-wise is a big drop off, with the next leading goalscorer (Devon Fisher) having found the net six times. Mario Herrera Maraz (eight assists) leads his club in helpers.
Key results: #13 Charlotte, #12 Xavier
Last time the Niners played VCU…was a match that they’d rather forget: a 4-1 loss to the Rams on October 5, the most goals given up for the Niners in a while.
4th seed: #25 Saint Louis
At a glance: The Billikens’ bread and butter is their defense: second only to the Niners (0.88), but they certainly are capable of scoring (tied with VCU with 2.24 GPG).
Watch out for: Robbie Cristo (9) is the team’s top goal scorer, with ten other players recording at least one goal. The Billikens’ don’t have a ton of assists, however, but they spread it around: six players have at least four helpers.
Key wins: #18 Louisville, at #7 Creighton, #21 VCU
Last time the Niners played Saint Louis…was a 1-0 victory on October 26 up in the Gateway City.
We already know the Niners’ strengths, but they have something else no other team in the field has: home-field advantage. The Queen City Army will be ready to help give their team the push they need heading toward the road to Hoover.