Pictured is Graduate Student Manny Day, the first goal-scorer of the night. Photo by Olivia Shirk from the Men’s Soccer Game vs Northern Kentucky for Flyer News.
Clare Mathews | Sports Editor
After 90 incredibly entertaining minutes, the Dayton Flyers Men’s Soccer Team has officially punched their ticket to their first A-10 final appearance since 2019. The Flyers stunned Davidson fans by pulling out the win at Alumni Stadium in Davidson, North Carolina.
With two crucial pieces of Dayton’s roster, Basit Umar and Joseph Melto Quiah, out with injuries, the Flyers knew it would have to be a full team effort to advance.
Dayton took the lead early when Manny Day pounded in a corner from Kenji Mboma Dem. This was huge for the Flyers because none of Davidson’s wins this past season have occurred when they conceded first, but there was still lots of game left to play, as this happened in just the 11th minute. Both teams battled hard for the rest of the half, and the score remained 1-0 with the Flyers in the lead going into halftime.
The Flyers and the Wildcats came out of halftime with lots of energy knowing that finding the win would be the only way to continue their seasons. It was Kenji Mboma Dem who was able to find the back of the net just a few minutes after halftime when he fired near post off a feed from Braden Seel.
Less than two minutes later, Paul Yeboh received a yellow card and the Wildcats got a goal-scoring opportunity with a free kick just outside of the box. Davidson capitalizes on this opportunity by sneaking one in between Dayton keeper, Dario Caetano, and the right post.
Although the Flyers still led the Wildcats, they were only up by one point, so they kept the pressure on. The forward pressure from Sidike Jabateh paid off when he took advantage of a poor pass between Wildcat defenders leading to him winning the ball in the final third. After just a few touches into the box, Jabateh slipped a perfectly placed pass into Kenji Mboma Dem’s feet. Mboma Dem fired one from his left foot which put the Flyers at a two-point lead.
Because this was a win-or-go-home game, both teams fought hard until the final whistle. Just a few minutes later, Swedish sophomore, Adam Zenzen, fired a rocket from just outside the 18. The ball hit the crossbar, slammed down on the ground, where it bounced back up to hit the crossbar a second time. After bouncing off the ground right around the goal line for a second time, the Davidson keeper secured the ball in his hands. Both announcers of the game agreed that it did indeed look to them like the first time the ball hit the ground, it did so behind the goal line. Still, the Assistant Referee did not see the same thing, and play was never stopped, so no goal.
On the very next play, defender Paul Yeboah committed a foul, which the Referee ruled deserving of a yellow card. Yeboah, who received a yellow earlier, received a red card thus ejecting him from the game. This meant the Flyers had to play the final 23 minutes of the game one man down, with 10 players against Davidson’s 11. Dayton dominated for the vast majority of the game until this red card. After the red card, Davidson monopolized possession until the end of the game.
The Flyers remained strong, holding their lead until the final whistle, securing their spot in the Atlantic-10 Conference Finals. Due to Yeboah’s red card, he will be ineligible to play in the Conference Championships. The Flyers will head to Richmond, Virginia to compete on No. 1 VCU’s home field. This will be Head Coach Dennis Currier’s fourth A-10 final, and the Flyers will be fighting to earn him his third Atlantic-10 Conference Championship. The Flyers play on Sunday, Nov. 12 for the Championship. Tune into ESPN+ to cheer on the Flyers.