Soccer, Sports

Playoff implications abound for m. soccer

The Boston University men’s soccer team will put its six-game unbeaten streak on the line tomorrow at 1 p.m. when it welcomes the University of Hartford, owner of a four-game winless streak, to Nickerson Field for Senior Day. But the contest will be about more than just the pre-game ceremonies and post-game pictures.
With one game left in the regular season, the only things settled in the America East standings are that Hartford (7-6-3, 3-3-1 AE) will be the fifth seed in the conference tournament and the University of New Hampshire will be the sixth and final seed.
Just two points separate the top four teams. The Terriers (8-5-3, 5-1-1) are currently tied with the University at Albany atop the standings with 16 points apiece. Binghamton University is one point back and the University of Vermont is two back. Albany hosts Vermont on Sunday, while Binghamton travels to the University of Maine.
All four teams have a shot at earning home-field advantage throughout the tournament. Albany has the clearest route, as it would clinch first place with a win thanks to an Oct. 4 win over BU. To stake claim to the top seed, the Terriers must win and have the Great Danes lose or tie.
Binghamton can clinch first with a win and a loss or a tie from both Albany and BU. Vermont can jump from fourth to first with a win over Albany, combined with a BU loss and a Binghamton loss or tie. The Terriers could potentially drop to fourth if they lose and Vermont and Binghamton both win. They would clinch a first-round bye with a win.
‘Our goal is to get one of the top two spots,’ BU coach Neil Roberts said. ‘That’s been one of our goals all year, and now we’re in a good position to get it done.’
The Terriers’ last game was Saturday when they traveled to Baltimore and beat the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 3-0, behind senior goalkeeper Hrafn Davidsson’s seventh shutout of the season. BU used the week off primarily for rest and recuperation.
‘It was good,’ Roberts said of the break. ‘We got some rest, got some guys healthy, worked on some things and figured out what Hartford’s strengths are.’
The Hawks’ biggest strength is junior forward Carlos Villa. The Guatemala native leads America East in goals with 11 and is tied for first in points with 25. He recorded all three goals in a shutout win over Bryant University on Sept. 16 for his first career hat trick.
‘If we give [Villa] opportunities, he’ll score,’ Roberts said. ‘We have to deny passes to him because if he turns on us and gets open, he’ll be difficult to stop.’
Roberts said he expects the game to be slower and more technical than the typical America East game because of Hartford’s style.
‘They’re a very technical team,’ Roberts said. ‘They’re different than the other teams in the conference ‘-‘- they possess the ball more. You’re going to see two teams trying to possess the ball. It will be more of a chess match than most games.
‘It’s always fun to watch two technical teams play and watch them try to break each other down.’

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