At the halfway point in the University of Rhode Island men’s soccer season, the team is just happy to be home.
The Rams finished up a road trip in Saint Louis, Missouri that took them into four different states all across the country. Last Saturday they
St. Louis University got the lone goal in the 83rd minute courtesy of Leo Novaes. He scored off a cross from John Klein, a preseason All-Atlantic 10 selection. The finish from Novaes was his third goal of the season.
Rhody was unable to muster much of an offense on the night, a rarity for the team. They were limited to only two shots on target, well below their average of seven a game. The result marked the first time since 2016 the Rams failed to score against SLU.
Head Coach Gareth Elliott knew going into the game it would likely be a close match and said the tactical nature of the contest resulted in a low-scoring game.
“They’re a dangerous team, so defensively we sat back a little bit more and played on the counter attack,” he said. “Over the course of the game they probably had the same amount of goal-scoring changes as we did.” He added that the counter-attacking style the team played was likely going to result in few goals for both teams.
Through nine games on the season, URI sports a 4-3-2 record on the year. The team started out slow as it searched for an identity, going winless in their first three games. A game against Providence College fired up those wearing Keaney Blue, and the squad used that game as a springboard, winning four out of their next five games before the game in St. Louis.
The Rams, who were picked to finish third in the preseason coaches poll, are among three teams who are 1-1 in conference play so far after defeating George Washington earlier this month. The top eight teams move on to the postseason tournament, with the semifinals and finals held at Jack Coffey Field at Fordham University. Rhody sits at No. 8 as it stands with more than a month to go before the conference tournament begins.
Six of the remaining eight regular season games are in the Atlantic 10 and Coach Elliott, who is now in year seven as head coach, is no stranger to the second half of the schedule.
“Second half of the year is all about conference play, and that is the most important thing,” he said. “We only have eight conference games, and everything means a lot at that point.”
Goals had been a consistent theme before the team’s most recent game, and nobody on the Rams has scored more this year than Filippo Tamburini. The transfer from Canisius has bagged four goals on the year, including a remarkable run where he scored in four straight games.
Redshirt sophomore Edvin Akselsen leads the team in assists with five. The winger, who also scored via the penalty spot against Holy Cross, now has 11 career assists for the Rams. Stavros Zarokostas, a team captain from Coventry, Rhode Island, is second on the team in both goals and assists with two and three respectively.
Rhody continues their push to defend their A-10 championship on Saturday when they take on Fordham University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the URI Soccer Complex.