Starting the regular season away from home, the University of Dayton women’s soccer team opened the year playing a pair of matches in Texas.
Dayton, the three-time defending Atlantic 10 Conference champion, opened the season with a 3-2 loss to the University of Texas Friday, Aug. 17, in Austin, Texas. Two days later, the first win of the year came in a 5-1 triumph against the University of Texas-San Antonio in San Antonio.
The Flyers jumped out to a lead just over two minutes into the game. Senior forward Colleen Williams netted her first goal of the season off a corner kick taken by freshman midfielder and defender Lesley Chilton for a 1-0 lead. Williams, who is on the Hermann Trophy watch list as the top women’s collegiate soccer player, led the team with 16 goals in 23 contests in 2011.
The lead was short-lived as Texas would equalize the score on senior forward Hannah Higgins’ 11th minute score.
Staying tied into the 81st minute, Texas freshman midfielder Sydney Shutter gave her team the lead with just over nine minutes remaining, but it would not hold. After running in from her own corner kick with just under four minutes left, Flyers junior midfielder Juliana Libertin tied the game at two, trickling a goal by Texas sophomore goalkeeper Ava Vogel.
In overtime though, senior midfielder Krisitin Cummins, who tied for the team lead in goals in 2011, put away the golden goal for the win in the 99th minute to hand the Flyers an opening loss.
The team has not lost its season opener since 2005.
Head coach Mike Tucker said he was pleased with what he saw in the opening match but thought his team was going to win in the extra session.
“We had three really good opportunities in overtime, but when you don’t put those away, then it’s one and you’re done,” he said. “We gave up way too many scoring opportunities, but they were a good team.”
Senior midfielder and forward Alexia Garcia said she thought the team played well for having an opening match away from home.
“I was really happy with our play,” she said. “We were doing everything we set out to do, but it was just our couple of mistakes that really bit us. At the end of the day, that was unfortunate, but we couldn’t be mad because we played how we wanted to play.”
A bounce-back, winning effort came in the four-goal margin over UTSA on Sunday at the UTSA Recreational Sports Complex. Another quick start for the Flyers was punctuated by a goal scored in the match’s fourth minute from Libertin following a corner kick. Williams would keep pace with her teammate, scoring her second goal of the season in the 20th minute. Freshman midfielder Ashley Campbell netted her first ever collegiate goal in the 38th minute for a 3-0 halftime lead.
“On Sunday in the first half, we were really on them,” Tucker said. “It almost looked like they weren’t even out there on the field at times because we were having our way. The game changed after the half. … we still created good scoring opportunities and were better defensively, but we’re not perfect yet.”
The Flyers scored the first five goals of the match before UTSA got on the board against junior goalkeeper Jordin Melchert, who was a halftime substitute. Tucker said Melchert had been battling an illness and being able to get her into the game was a plus. He said all twenty players entered the match against UTSA.
Libertin would add one more goal in the match to give her three for the week along with two assists. Her seven-point weekend effort was good enough to be named Atlantic 10 Conference co-player of the week, along with La Salle University’s Jourdan McVicker, on Monday, Aug. 20.
After being outshot in its opening match against Texas 21-10, the Flyers turned the tables on UTSA with a 27-12 shot advantage.
“In a way, we did well both games, but with the better outcome Sunday, we had better opportunities and didn’t make as many mistakes that came back to bite us in the butt,” said Garcia.
Dayton opened its home schedule on Thursday, Aug. 23, against Boston University, who is ranked 19th in the first National Soccer Coaches Association of American poll of the regular season. The women’s next home match is Sunday, Aug. 26, against Northwestern University at Baujan Field at 1 p.m.