Soccer Week Seven Preview
HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, VA - The Tigers are looking towards the end of the season stretch starting this week with only five more games remaining before the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament begins. Hampden-Sydney will host Lynchburg on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and will travel to Bridgewater, VA, to play Bridgewater on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Hampden-Sydney is coming off a thrilling 3-2 double overtime win over Marymount and will look to take the momentum into this week with two crucial ODAC games on the schedule. The Tigers have lost four straight games against the Hornets and last registered a win on October 17, 2007. Since then, the two teams have played three overtime games and twice in the ODAC Tournament. Meanwhile, Hampden-Sydney has won five straight matches against Bridgewater and has not lost to the Eagles since Oct 25, 2005.
The Tigers have several outstanding offensive players, this year the Tigers have utilized that depth well as 15 players have scored at least one point and eight players have scored two or more goals. Bryan Wharton (Glen Allen, VA/Deep Run), Curran Blackwell (Wilson, NC/Greenfield), and James Lawrence (Midlothian, VA/Midlothian) lead the way with four goals apiece while Alex Thexton (Midlothian, VA/Cosby) and Robert Stephens (Williamsburg, VA/Lafayette) have three goals. Bo Burns (Raleigh, NC/Leesville Road) is tops on the team in assists with five and Nick DeProspero (Midlothian, VA/Cosby), Bryan Talbert (Seaford, VA/York), and Chris Whiteside (Viriginia Beach, VA/Frank W. Cox) also have three helpers. The defense has been led by Blackwell, Justin Pugh (Richmond, VA/Monacan), Gregorio Pacheco (Montclair, NJ/Montclair), and Jackson Parker (Raleigh, NC/Sanderson). Duncan Oliphant (Annapolis, MD/Annapolis) has been the man in the net this year and has filled the role admirably, boasting a 82.5% save percentage in 946 minutes of action.
Lynchburg advanced all the way to the national championship game last year and lost in overtime, but this year has proven to be a much more difficult fare as they come into the game with a 4-6-2 record. Despite the record, Lynchburg has proven to be a tough squad to beat in every outing. LC leads the conference in goals allowed with just 10 and as of October 2, they rank 42nd in the nation in goals against average. They have six shutouts and have allowed one or fewer goals in nine of their 12 contests.
While the defense has done a superb job this season, the offense has proven to be their weakness. The Hornets have scored the fewest goals in the ODAC, putting the ball in the net just eight times. Lynchburg has been shut out six times and have only managed two multiple-goal games, 2-0 wins over Emory and Mary Washington.
A big key to the game will be which team scores first. A goal has been scored in 10 of their 12 games, in all 10 of those games, the team that scored first has won all 10 contests.
Bridgewater comes into the week in a three-way tie with Hampden-Sydney for sixth in the ODAC with a 2-3 conference record. Bridgewater has been in a tail spin of late, having lost six of their last eight contests with the two wins coming against Virginia Wesleyan and Emory & Henry. The Tigers and Eagles have faced several common opponents thus far in Marymount, Mary Washington, Ferrum, Randolph, Virginia Wesleyan, and Emory & Henry, and H-SC and Bridgewater both own a 4-2 record against common foes.
The Eagles have been shut out four times this year compared to twice for the Tigers while each team has shut out its opponent three times. Bridgewater has also started numerous different lineups this year as 20 players have received at least one start. No one player has proven to be a goal scoring sensation to Bridgewater, but the Eagles have relied on a committee approach similar to that of the Tigers. Eleven different Eagles have scored their 17 goals while 20 total players have contributed at least one point this fall.
Likewise with the Lynchburg game, the team that scores first is the favorite to win as teams that have scored first in Bridgewater games have come out on the winning side in 11 of 13 contests.