Pictured are the 2023 Atlantic-10 Conference Men’s Soccer Champions, the Dayton Flyers. Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Filmore for Flyer News.
Clare Mathews | Sports Editor
After a rollercoaster of a regular season and an equally wild Atlantic-10 Conference tournament, the Dayton Flyers Men’s Soccer has officially punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Winning the conference clinches an automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, and the Dayton Flyers have done exactly that.
A full-team win that displayed the Flyers’ resilience, tenacity and passion for the game made the Conference Championship even more special.
The Flyers went 3-1-4 in conference play prior to their journey in the Conference Tournament. Additionally, the Flyers did not have a road win for the entirety of the regular season. Their first wins away from home this season have been these past three Atlantic-10 Championship Games at Loyola University Chicago, Davidson College and Virginia College University.
The Flyers were ranked No. 6 out of the 8 teams competing in the A-10 tournament, which set them up to play No. 3 Loyola Chicago in the first round.
The Flyers began their postseason journey with a nailbiter in Chicago that ended in penalty kicks. The Flyers returned from a deficit of a goal twice in the game. Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie. After 2 scoreless overtime periods, the Flyers converted on all 5 PKs, earning them the win.
The Quarterfinal win against Loyola matched the Flyers up with No. 4 Davidson in the semifinals. The higher seed gets to host the match, so the Flyers were again playing on the other team’s turf. An underdog 3-1 win over the Davidson Wildcats secured Dayton’s spot in the A-10 Conference Championship Finals. The No. 1 VCU Rams hosted the Flyers for this matchup.
Head coach Dennis Currier is in his 19th season of leading the Flyers and this was his fourth visit to the A-10 finals. The last time the Flyers were in the Conference Finals was in 2019 when they fell short to Rhode Island.
The Flyers never fail to make it an entertaining game, and this Conference Championship match was no exception to that. The Flyers conceded first when the Rams scored in the 10 minute. It wasn’t until the 69 minute that they evened the score. It was Kenji Mboma Dem who scored the equalizer with an incredibly powerful shot laid off to him by Many Day.
The score remained 1-1 all the way up until the 89 minute when Hjalti Sigurdsson headed in the game-winner off of a service from Geni Kanyane. The Flyers remained strong for the last minute and 16 seconds to lock in their 2-1 victory and the conference title.
Five Flyers earned themselves spots on the A-10 Championship Team: Logan Brown, Manny Day, Hjalti Sigurdsson, Dario Caetano and Kenji Mboma Dem
Additionally, Kenji Mboma Dem was awarded with Most Outstanding Performer.
This Flyers A-10 Championship is the third Conference Title under the leadership of Head Coach Dennis Currier. The last time the Flyers were Conference Champions was in 2015.
This Flyers team is truly special. Aside from the injuries and obstacles the Flyers have overcome, this year, the Flyers had 21 new players joining the program, including 16 freshmen. Their success late in the season has shown that they seem to have found their rhythm. This championship win puts the Flyers at an 11-game unbeaten streak. Additionally, this season the Flyers have 18 international student-athletes coming from 11 different countries.
It is often said that anything can happen in the playoffs. The Dayton Flyers’ unwavering determination, persistence and ability to make every game a thrilling game, have embodied this sentiment.
On Nov. 13, during the NCAA D1 Men’s Soccer 2023 Selection Show, it was announced that the Flyers will take on Louisville this upcoming Thursday in the first round of The NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament commonly referred to as the College Cup.
Be sure to check out @flyernews on Instagram and head to flyernews.com to stay up-to-date with the Flyers in their continued postseason journey! We congratulate them on the Conference Championship and wish them the best of luck in the NCAA tournament!