Conference rivalries kick off across the Big East on Friday night, with Seton Hall hitting the road for a meeting with Providence. The Pirates’ four tune-up games have yielded a mixed bag in terms of both results and statistical analysis, but the numbers on offer provide hints at what the team can accomplish under second-year head coach Andreas Lindberg.
Lindberg’s diverse squad – no fewer than 14 nationalities are represented on the 2019 roster – has produced 60 shots already, 20 of which hit the target and seven put the Pirates on the scoreboard. Averaging 15 shots per game is good for fourth in the conference through the early going.
But the numbers can be decieiving. The Pirates dismantled an inferior Central Connecticut State team in their season opener, rifling in six goals on 28 shots, 11 of which were on target. This is excellent, of course, until realizing what that means for the Hall’s three other games.
Since the opening win, Seton Hall played much tougher competition in national No. 18 Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International, and Lehigh. Despite holding their own against strong opponents, the Pirates suffered 1-0, 2-1 and 1-0 losses. While the Connecticut State win was a great result, the focus should deservedly be on these matchups, against opponents of similar stature and quality of play.
Florida Gulf Coast, on the road, was arguably the toughest game of the season for the Hall, and they held firm against the nationally ranked Eagles. A 90th-minute rebound was tucked away by the home side to deny them a fantastic result. The Pirates only conceded 12 shots and created opportunities for themselves from set pieces as well, drawing six corners and 17 fouls while only conceding five of each.
Senior Vittorio Argeri’s penalty shortly after halftime was the best of the 14 shots for the Pirates in a 2-1 loss to FIU, in which the Pirates failed to earn a single corner kick. Cherry picking the corner statistic, though, is unfair in what turned out to be a match full of anomalies.
The Hall again failed to score from open play – or at all – against Lehigh. The Pirates again struggled to generate scoring chances against a well-marshalled defense, and Lehigh struck following a set piece in the 50th minute. Lindberg’s side did not have a shot on target once after conceding.
Despite their offensive deficiency, the Hall has been solid defensively. Four goals allowed in four games is a testament to good work off the ball, and Lindberg’s tactical decisions certainly play a role in the action on the pitch.
Providence also has a good defensive record – four goals conceded in six games – while consistently finding the back of the net. The Friars have yet to be shut out this season, and Seton Hall will need to either buck that trend and score goals of their own to earn a victory on Friday.
Kyle Beck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twittrer @notkylebeck.