Rams Ready for Thursday's NCAA Tournament Opener at UConn

Rams Ready for Thursday's NCAA Tournament Opener at UConn

NCAA Tournament First Round
Thursday, Nov. 15 - 1 p.m.
Rentschler Stadium - East Hartford, Conn.
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The Basics

  • Rhode Island (15-4-0) is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006 and 12th in program history.
  • Rhody clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament when it shut out George Mason 2-0 in Sunday's Atlantic 10 title game.
  • The Rams advanced to the A-10 finals by defeating Fordham (2-0) in the quarterfinals and VCU (1-0) in the semis.
  • Graduate defender Tyler Dickson was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, joining seniors Chae Brangman and Dominik Richter, junior Stavros Zarokostas and freshman Roger Penske on the All-Championship Team.
  • The 2018 Atlantic 10 Championship title is Rhode Island's first since 2006, and seventh overall.
  • Head coach Gareth Elliott has now been a part of six of URI's seven Atlantic 10 Championships, winning two as a player (1999, 2000), three as an assistant coach (2003, 2005, 2006) and now one as a head coach (2018).
  • Rhode Island and Connecticut are two of just three New England programs among the field of 48. New Hampshire is the other.
  • The winner of the Rhody-UConn game will travel to Big Ten champion Indiana to face the tournament's No. 2 overall seed. The other teams in URI's section of the bracket are 15th-seeded Denver, Air Force and Central Arkansas.
  • Rhody is led offensively by senior Dominik Richter, who enters the game with a team-best 23 points on nine goals and five assists.
  • Redshirt freshman Edvin Akselsen is just behind him with seven goals and six assists (20 points).
  • Junior Stavros Zarokostas (8g/3a) and senior Chae Brangman (6g/3a) also have double-digit point totals with 19 and 15, respectively.
  • Senior Dominik Richter has netted four game-winning goals this season. Junior Stavros Zarokostas and grad student Tyler Dickson each have three game-winners.
  • Sophomore Peder Kristiansen leads the team in assists, with seven.
  • Overall, 14 different players have recorded either a goal or an assist for the Rams. Eight players have at least one of each.
  • Freshman goalkeeper Roger Penske is 13-4 on the season with seven shutouts and a 0.97 goals against average.
  • URI enters the NCAA Tournament with the nation's 12th-best scoring offense (2.05 goals per game). Rhode Island's 39 goals on the season also rank 12th nationally.
  • Defensively, the Rams have the ninth-best save percentage in the country at 0.823.
  • The Rams, who have jumped in and out of the national polls all season, currently are ranked 21st by Top Drawer Soccer, 23rd by the United Soccer Coaches, 23rd by Soccer America and 30th by College Soccer News. This is the first week that URI is ranked in all four polls.
  • Seven different Rhode Island men's soccer players earned Atlantic 10 postseason awards this season. Senior Dominik Richter and junior Peder Kristiansen both were named to the Atlantic 10 First Team while grad student Tyler Dickson, junior Stavros Zarokostas and freshman Edvin Akselsen earned Second Team honors. Akselsen also landed a spot on the All-Rookie squad, alongside classmate Sondre Karterud. Additionally, Kristiansen and junior Niklas Middrup both collected All-Academic accolades.

The Rhody-UConn Series

  • UConn leads: 22-10-2
  • Last meeting: UConn defeated Rhody (2-1) on Sept. 21, 2016, in Kingston, R.I. Rhode Island was scheduled to play at UConn earlier this season (Sept. 11), but the game was canceled due to potential inclement weather.
  • Current Streak: Connecticut, 12 wins
  • Rhode Island's last win: Nov. 25, 1979 (3-2, 4OT) in Kingston, R.I.
  • Of Note: The Rams and Huskies have met twice before in the NCAA Tournament - in 1976 and in 2003. Both games were played in Storrs, Conn., with UConn winning 2-1 in 1976 and 3-0 in 2003.

Scouting the Huskies

  • Connecticut enters the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 11-5-2.
  • The Huskies went 3-2-2 in American Athletic Conference play, finishing fourth among the league's eight schools.
  • UConn defeated Temple (3-1) to advance to the AAC semifinals, where it fell to UCF (3-2) in double overtime.
  • The Huskies have lost three of their last four games. Prior to that, they were undefeated (8-0-2) over a 10-game span from Sept. 8 - Oct. 28.
  • Connecticut is ranked 24th in this week's College Soccer News Poll. The Huskies also received votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll as well as the Top Drawer Soccer poll.
  • Abdou Mbacke Thiam leads the team with 32 points on 13 goals and six assists.
  • Dayonn Harris is the only other player with a double-digit point total as he has 16 points in five goals and six assists.
  • Ten different players have found the back of the net for UConn this season.
  • Opponents are averaging 10.3 shots and 4.1 corner kicks per game against the Huskies.
  • Austin Aviza has played 14 of UConn's 18 games in goal this season, posting a 9-3-1 record, a 1.03 goals against average and four shutouts.