The Collegian
Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Men's soccer's A-10 games were strong finish to season

The men's soccer team finished its season with a win, one of three this year, but looking back on the whole season, luck just didn't bounce toward the Spiders this year, assistant coach Matt O'Toole said.

The team fought back from poor fitness and preseason injuries to be prepared for league play, but finished 10th in the Atlantic 10 after playing its nine conference games, O'Toole said.

At the beginning of conference play, the team had lost all but one game. But, the beginning of conference play was the team's highest point because from then on the team played competitively and consistently during every game, O'Toole said. By the end of the season, the Spiders had added two more wins and three ties.

"Our first trip in the A-10," he said, "where we played Xavier and Dayton - that was the weekend we started to play, combining in the midfield, turning weaknesses into strengths. We were scoring goals that weekend. ... Everybody came to play. It was the best weekend of the season so far, and it set the tone."

Earlier in the season the team suffered losses of 6-1, 4-1, 4-0 and other high-scoring games, but nearly every A-10 game was close in score.

"We were competitive in every game," O'Toole said, "lots of back and forth. It was a matter of closing games out."

Senior captain Brennan Lincoln agreed, saying he wished the team could've been strong for all 90 minutes of the game.

"Just playing as hard as we can from the first whistle to the last," he said. "Our biggest struggle was winning."

The team played five overtime games this season, all but one of which were during A-10 play. Of those five, three overtimes were forced by the team's opponents, and only once did Richmond come out on top.

"It was a struggle culturing that mentality that no matter what happens, even if it's been a tough game, it does not have to be beautiful, but we do have to win," Lincoln said. "Sometimes we had that and it was great, but when it was missing it was very evident.

"It was nice to go out with a win, but it wasn't the result on the season we were hoping for."

In late October, the Spiders came back from a two-goal deficit, forcing overtime against the University of Rhode Island. The game finished in a draw (2-2), which, at that point, kept the team's playoff chances afloat.

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"The URI game was one of the best games I've had the pleasure of playing in college," Lincoln said.

"To come from two behind and see everybody step up - it was great."

The team needed to win its last three games to secure a spot in the playoffs. Despite a good performance in Rhode Island, it lost its next two games against George Washington University and St. Bonaventure University.

Officials issued seven yellow cards and a red card during a heated game against St. Bonaventure, after a quarrel on the field in front of St. Bonaventure's bench, O'Toole said.

"It was a physical game," he said, "and it got a little out of the refs' control. They issued red and yellow cards to deal with disciplinary issues.

"Players get frustrated, and there were some verbal altercations, but our bench stayed intact and there were the linesmen, the ref and the fourth official there. ... It was all in the heat of battle."

Four of the yellow cards were given to Richmond players at separate points in the game, but most of St. Bonaventure's cards, including the red card, were given at the 75th minute after a clash with Lincoln.

Lincoln and four other seniors - Scott Loesser, Thomas Kale, Kern Gardiner and Delano Pierre - were honored for senior day before playing Duquesne University on Nov. 9. During four seasons, the seniors have played 76 games and made it to the semi-finals of the A-10 tournament in 2006. Combined, they scored 24 goals in four years, and earned 73 points.

"I'll look back on this as a full career," Lincoln said.

Even though his time as a collegiate player is over, Lincoln said he would be back at it soon.

"I'll give myself a couple days off, let my body try to mend itself," he said. "Hopefully I'll get back in the gym - don't want to go to complete shambles.

"I'll probably play on the club team in the spring, just cause I love the game."

Contact staff writer Jacki Raithel at jacki.raithel@richmond.edu

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