The University of Dayton men’s soccer team rallied from two goals down to tie undefeated rival No. 9 Xavier University 2-2 on Friday, Oct. 12, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Flyers (7-3-1, 1-1-1 A-10) and the Musketeers were scoreless until the final minute of the first half, when XU junior defender Nick Hagglund scored on a header on the cross from junior midfielder Gino De Paoli.
XU (9-0-3, 2-0-1 A-10) would go on to take the 2-0 lead early in the second half after a breakaway goal from redshirt sophomore midfielder Will Walker.
The Flyers did not go away quietly, as junior forward Abe Keller led Dayton on a second-half comeback. The team’s leading scorer netted two goals in less than a minute to tie the game at two.
The first goal was on a strike from the 18-yard line in the 71st minute, and the second came 42 seconds later off a rebound from Xavier senior goalkeeper Justin Marshall after a penalty kick for his fifth and sixth goals of the year, respectfully.
According to UD head coach Dennis Currier, the team looks to Keller as the go-to guy in these close games.
“Anytime you need someone to step up, Keller is a great guy to do so,” Currier said. “Even though he was a little off his mark tonight, he was still able to change the tide of the game for us.”
Despite the huge game, Keller said after the game that he still could have played much better.
“I had lots of shots but not a lot of good shots,” Keller said. “I feel more lucky than happy about my goals. I must improve my shots.”
The other star of the game for UD was freshman goalkeeper Chris Froschauer, who paced the Flyers with eight saves on ten shots on goal from Xavier.
In total, both teams tied on total shots with 23. UD also led on corner kicks 5-4. The rivalry game was also highly physical, as both teams combined for 31 fouls, with UD contributing 21 of them. Freshman midfielder Maik Schoonderwoerd also drew a yellow card in the match’s 53rd minute.
Keller attributed the physical style play with how much this game meant to the team.
“This is a huge rivalry, and so far it was our biggest game of the year,” Keller said. “There were lots of fouls because you have to play physical to keep up with a team like Xavier.”
Overall, despite the seemingly underwhelming result, Currier said he is pleased with how things shook out.
“I thought we ended on a good note. We had a good second half. We fought back,” Currier said. “Even though we had a couple chances to win, I thought we at least deserved the tie.
“Anytime we go on road, face ranked opponent, [we] want to get some points. After being down 2-0, we can take some confluence out of this and hopefully ride momentum into our next two games.”
All in all, Keller says the team is pleased with the team’s effort.
“I’m very happy with the comeback. It shows the spirit we have here,” Keller said. “We can learn from this great accomplishment for the rest for the season.”
The Flyers remain on the road for its next game against St. Bonaventure University at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, in Olean, N.Y.