[PREVIEW] Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Championship

Dayton hosts the Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Championship Nov. 14-17 (photo courtesy of atlantic10.com).
Dayton hosts the Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Championship Nov. 14-17 (photo courtesy of atlantic10.com).

With a 2-1 win over St. Bonaventure University over the weekend, the Mason men’s soccer team secured the second seed entering the A-10 conference championship today, facing Saint Joseph’s University in Dayton, Ohio.


This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season after Mason won 1-0 back in September. The Patriots (10-2-4, 5-0-3 A-10) enter the tournament as the best defensive team in regular season as freshman starter Steffen Kraus conceded only five goals in all eight conference games, earning him the Rookie of the Year award and a selection to the All-Conference Second Team. Mason will rely on a balanced attacking line with leading scorers Wes Sever and Jannick Eckenrode combining for eight of 20 team goals this season.

St. Joseph’s

The Hawks’ (5-8-5, 3-5) leading scorers, Tim Lazorko and Jake Nelson have also scored four goals each while goalkeeper Andrew D’Ottavi recorded three shutouts in the regular season, including one in statement 1-0 win over Virginia Commonwealth University.

St. Louis

St. Louis University, the defending champions, received the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and are the only unbeaten team other than Mason. The Billikens (12-4-2, 6-0-2) are led offensively by first-team All-Conference forward Robert Kristo (nine goals, four assists) and Alex Sweetin (seven goals, seven assists), who was also named Midfielder of the Year. In the back, the Billikens rely on Defender of the Year Anthony Manning, who led a defense that only allowed eight goals to A-10 opposition. In Thursday’s quarterfinals, St. Louis will face eighth-seeded University of Massachusetts (4-13-1, 3-5), to which they handed a 2-1 loss last weekend.


Mason’s in-state rival VCU (10-6-2, 5-2-1) enters the championship as the third seed and an impressive 18-7 goal differential in conference. The Rams are led offensively by forward Kharlton Belmar (seven goals) and midfielder Dennis Castillo (five goals). Both players were named to the first-team All-Conference on Wednesday. The Rams suffered one loss during conference play, a recent, 3-0 defeat at the hands of Duquesne University (9-7-1, 4-3-1). The win helped the Dukes to finish regular season in sixth place, forming a weekend rematch in the opening round of the tournament.


Tournament hosts Dayton University took the fifth seed and will entertain fourth-seeded La Salle University in the final quarterfinal Thursday. The Flyers (14-2-2, 4-2-2) are led offensively by junior forward Greg Enstone (nine goals). Senior midfielder Abe Keller has scored seven goals this season and provided for an additional nine assists, which booked him a spot on the All-Conference first team. 


The Explorers (8-7-3, 5-2-1), on the other hand, have in their ranks Jason Plumhoff, who was named the 2013 Atlantic-10 Conference Offensive Player of the Year with his 10 goals and nine assists.

The semifinals of the tournament will be played on Friday. The winner of the matchup between St. Louis and Massachusetts will face the winner of the matchup between Dayton and LaSalle. There is a possibility of an in-state clash in the other semifinal if Mason and VCU first manage to defeat Saint Joseph’s and Duquesne, respectively.

The championship game which will reserve the winner a spot in the 2013 NCAA tournament will be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17.

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