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Men's Soccer: Weekend Preview

By Sam Donnelly, Staff Writer
After the UNH fell to Hartford this weekend, the Wildcats have struggled to find time on the field due to the rainy weather. Although this week’s practices were shortened, Hoffman emphasized their importance.
“Practice this week has been short and sharp,” Hoffman said. “We need to find a way to grab points this week. It’s about getting better for us.”
After the loss Saturday, the Wildcats were given Sunday for team recovery, and Monday as an off-day before returning to the practice field Tuesday for training sessions. The Wildcat’s focus is less on running and more on the importance of game planning.
“At this point in, we aren’t getting much better fitness-wise,” Hoffman said. “It’s more about making sure the repetition is good.”

The Wildcats will take the field again this Saturday against University of Maryland at Baltimore. UMBC holds the number one position within the America East conference with a 6-5-3 record and a 2-0-1 in conference record. Despite this, Hoffman says the Wildcats shouldn’t be fazed.
“Every conference game is winnable,” Hoffman said. “You really have to battle and everybody has to be on the same page. Our execution is going to be huge.”
The Wildcats have changed their game plan every week this season due to opponents’ weaknesses. With UMBC, weaknesses can be hard to find, especially with their high goal-scoring rate.
“Every team has a little chink in their armor,” Hoffman said. “We need to find a way to exploit that and cover up our own chinks.”
Despite UMBC holding the number one rank, the conference is relatively close. No team has truly pulled away from the rest of the pack. The second place team Vermont is behind by one game, and the third place UMass Lowell River Hawks are behind by only a tiebreaker.
“I don’t know that UMBC is any better than Stony Brook or that Lowell is any better than Binghamton,” Hoffman said. “The conference is very tight. We need to accept the reality of the situation that we’re in and rise above that. We need to figure out a way to get a result.
For the Wildcats to grab points in the next few weeks, Hoffman makes it clear that nothing bug has to change, but the little things need to improve. Most of the small things are mental decisions.
“We need to take pride in winning defensive battle,” Hoffman said. “We need to buy into the game plan and execute as best we can.”
The Wildcats have been consistent on the defensive side of the ball, allowing an average of 1.07 goals a game. That stat alone would lead you to believe the Wildcats would have a strong record, but the offense has been anything but consistent, being shut out seven times this season. In an effort to overcome the lack of goals scored, Hoffman and the Wildcats have focused on creating more chances on net.
“It’s been week-to-week,” Hoffman said. “It’s really about execution. We need to execute the game plan and when we score goals it’s because we follow that game plan. We need to execute close to flawless this weekend to win.”
As the Wildcats head down the final stretch of the season they will face the top-three teams in the America East: Vermont, UMass Lowell and UMBC. Currently, the Wildcats sit in seventh place and are in desperate need of points in order to make the playoffs.
“It is a game at a time,” Hoffman said. “We need to scrap for some points to get to where we want to be.”
Despite being gone for almost two months, there is still no word on head coach Rob Thompson. Thompson left the team after a road trip out to Colorado and has not been around the organization since. Athletic communications still has no comment on the status of Hoffman or Thompson. There is no word on the return of Thompson to the team.
The Wildcats will take on UMBC Saturday Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. on Bremner Field.

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