The men's soccer has gone into five overtimes and ended in three ties in its last five games while working to get into the Atlantic 10 Tournament, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Nov. 13, 14 and 16.
Last weekend the team lost to the University of Massachusetts (2-1) and tied the University of Rhode Island Rams (2-2), which leaves it with one win, two losses and three ties in the conference. The team will need to win its last three games, all of which will be at home, in order to guarantee a place in the tournament, senior Brennan Lincoln said.
Wins haven't come easy for this team, which went into conference play with only one win and nine losses. But, the team has been taking slow, steady steps toward improving and has now reached the most important part of its season, coach Jeff Gettler said.
"It's been baby steps of progress ... slow, constant progress, every week for the first four weeks," he said, "staying tight as a team with poor results and a poor record, not over-reacting to early season lack of success.
"We're a much better team than nine weeks ago, or six weeks ago. We're now in a position to compete."
Even though the team has tied several games, its A-10 record has earned it enough points to keep it in the running for a spot in the A-10 tournament, if it can finish the season with more positive results, Gettler said.
Each team in the conference plays nine of the 14 A-10 teams, which means that one weekend of poor results can knock a team out of the tournament, Gettler said. Only six, fewer than half of the teams in the conference, make it to the tournament.
The A-10 selects the least number of teams to play in the postseason tournament, he said.
Although the team currently has six points toward the tournament and is ranked 10th, it is only two points shy of tying URI and George Washington University for sixth place in the conference.
"Really, it's all up for grabs right now," leading goal-scorer Jake Russell said. Russell said he felt the team was in a good place because every team is looking for wins at this point.
Both Russell and Lincoln said Richmond's recent success had been a team effort. The team's defense has been working hard to keep the goals to a minimum, Russell said. Goalkeeper Brock Tomlinson has made 66 saves so far this season, 32 of which have been in the last six conference games.
Gettler said the team had improved in every position. He called the team's goalkeeping excellent, and its back line superb. The team's biggest struggle would be in the midfield, he said.
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Lincoln, a captain and center midfielder, is second in scoring with five goals behind Russell who has scored six.
The team's leadership has continued to evolve since the beginning of the season, starting with Lincoln, Gettler said.
"Brennan is leading everybody and everything," he said.
Lincoln said he tried to lift the level of play and lead by example. As part of that effort he said he sometimes would pull players aside to help them get up to "game speed."
"This being my last season, there's nothing I want to go unsaid," he said.
He and the other captains have been telling their teammates that every game and practice is an opportunity to get better, Lincoln said.
Captains Fynn Glover and Scott Loesser have been the glue for the team - continually keeping the team tight and focused, Gettler said.
The team will finish its regular season with three more games at First Market Stadium. The Spiders will play at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1 against George Washington, 7 p.m. on Nov. 7 against St. Bonaventure and 1 p.m. on Nov. 9 against Duquesne.
Contact reporter Jacki Raithel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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