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Men’s soccer loses two A-10 games

The La Salle men’s soccer team took two steps backward this weekend with road losses to Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The team fell to 5-10-1 overall and more importantly, dropped below .500 in Atlantic 10 games, to 3-4-0.

The Explorers first dropped a 2-1 decision last Friday to the Massachusetts Minutemen. Explorer freshman Ryan Richter scored his team-leading fifth goal in the loss off a pass from senior Mike Lehr. Richter smoked a shot from 30 yards out to draw the team within one, but it proved to be too little too late. The goal was scored with less than one minute remaining in the game.

La Salle fell behind early, with a goal headed past junior goalkeeper Andrew Bernhard in the 11th minute. In the 85th minute, the Minutemen got an insurance goal that proved to be the difference. Head coach Pat Farrell was disappointed to allow the late goal, but had to sacrifice defense in order to try to tie the game.

“You can’t be satisfied losing a game 1-0,” Farrell said. “We tried to push the game and added another attacker, and we left ourselves loose in the back. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish, and they scored on the counterattack.”

La Salle’s stay in New England would last the whole weekend, as they traveled to the University of Rhode Island to take on the Rams on Sunday. Again, the Explorers allowed a late goal to let the game slip away from them. In the 89th minute, the Rams were able to beat Bernhard on a corner kick play to take a 1-0 lead. The three-time defending A-10 champions held for the final minute to secure the victory.

The Explorers were stifled offensively throughout the day and were able to get only one shot on goal, courtesy of senior Joe Heavey. The Explorer defense was stingy as well, but lost containment on one play, and it cost them.

“Make no mistake about it: Rhode Island is good,” Farrell said. “The kids give you all that they can. That’s all you can ask, that they come out and play with passion and play to win. We had a couple of good chances late in the game, but couldn’t get the result.”

Despite setbacks on the field, individuals on the men’s soccer team are doing well in the classroom. Richter and Bernhard have been named to the Philadelphia Soccer Seven Honor Roll multiple times, and ESPN the Magazine recently named senior defenseman Walter McMahon to the 2007 Academic Men’s Soccer District Two First Team.

Farrell is very proud of what his student-athletes have been able to accomplish in the classroom. Winning is the ultimate goal on the field, but academic success is something on which this team places a lot of emphasis.

“Last fall we won the award for the highest GPA of all the men’s teams,” Farrell said. “Some of our seniors already have jobs, and they don’t graduate until May.”

La Salle gets ready to finish out its season with this weekend’s road trip to Richmond and George Washington, who have just two A-10 wins combined. These games are must-win contests for the Explorers, who are fighting for their postseason lives.

“We do need some help, but if we win these two games, we should be able to make the A-10 tournament,” Farrell said. “But we have to win. Right now, there’s no margin for error.”

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