Richmond coach Dan Chemotti said that at the beginning of the year, he and his team weren't even thinking about making the Atlantic Sun tournament. To him, it was more about the process than setting specific goals, and some practices early on indicated that the Spiders weren't anywhere close to where they wanted to be.
Their one-goal loss in the program's opener at the hands of five-time national champion Virginia proved otherwise. Fast forward three months, and Richmond earned a trip to the NCAA tournament in its first year with an automatic berth from the newly formed A-Sun.
"We knew that we'd have our work cut out for us in our conference games, where every game is an absolute dogfight," said Chemotti, a former assistant at Loyola. "Maybe the middle of the year and end of the year we'd start thinking about [making the conference tournament]."
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Chemotti said once his team saw it was realistic to make the conference tournament, it received "new life," which started to breed confidence.
"In both of those games [Mercer and High Point], our guys played with a lot of confidence and as a team," Chemotti said. "During the conference tournament, our offense and our defense were playing at the level we thought we could potentially play in the regular season. It was typically the defense carrying the offense and sometimes vice versa, but both sides of the ball were coming together."
Leading the way for the offense has been Mitch Goldberg, a big target from Damascus who has 31 goals and nine assists. Fellow freshmen Jackson Cabot, Brendan Hynes and Ryan Dennis have been terrors with their long-poles. Goldberg and Cabot both earned spots on the All-Atlantic Sun first team.
It was quite the scramble for Chemotti, who arrived at Richmond in November 2012. From there, he quickly had to find a few players to apply early-decision, and then until April 15 (the next admissions deadline) to find several more players for the upcoming fall. This was all done without assistant coaches to help ease the workload.
Chemotti sings the praises of all of his first-year guys, also noting that transfers Alex Hatem (Syracuse) and Brad Burnam (Siena), as well as offensive stalwarts Jean-Luc Chetner and Dan Ginestro, have been pivotal to the Spiders' offensive success.
"Those two freshmen are guys who have really taken on leadership roles on the offensive end," Chemotti said. "They calm us down offensively and give us a voice and great decision-making. Being able to get a few transfers in from great programs has been awesome as well, and those two have been no stranger to the stat sheet."