Defender Geni Kanyane during the Eastern Illinois game Sept. 13. Photo by Gupta.
Max Cross | Sports Editor
The Dayton Flyers played Saint Louis on Saturday night in a clash between two of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Flyers battled hard but ultimately came up short 3-1, suffering its first loss of the season and spoiled Dayton’s senior night.
The Dayton Flyers men’s soccer team has never finished the regular season undefeated, however, with only a few games remaining, that accomplishment seemed more and more like a possibility.
The Flyers stayed composed and were able to survive its biggest test this season on Oct. 12, tying No. 2 Kentucky in Lexington 2-2. Dayton is 9-1-4 on the season and 3-1-3 in Atlantic 10 Conference play.
“This is something unique to me,” said senior defender Xavier Zengue following the Kentucky draw. “I’ve never really been a part of something this special before. Obviously, it’s great to win, but I feel like it’s been hard to really appreciate it because we’re always looking toward the next game.”
Dayton closes out the regular season at noon on Oct. 29 at Massachusetts.
Dayton has been ranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll for most of the season. This marks the eighth straight week the Flyers have been in the top 25 or receiving votes. They have gotten as high as No. 16, the program’s highest ranking ever.
In the most recent poll, Dayton climbed from No. 22 to No. 19 following the draw with the Wildcats (8-0-5). According to NCAA analytics, Dayton is tied for third in the nation with 2.69 goals per game and tied for fourth in goal differential (plus 26).
Forster Ajago leads the Flyers with six goals. Andy Sanchez and Manny Day each have five goals a piece, while Michael Adedokun and Joseph Melto Quiah each have five assists.
Dayton head coach Dennis Currier believes his team has built a very solid NCAA Tournament resume. The last time the Flyers played in the tournament was back in 2015 when they went 13-5-5 and lost in the second round to Ohio State.
In the Atlantic 10 standings, Dayton sits third and trails Duquesne (4-0-3) by three points and Saint Louis (5-1-1) by four points. Saint Louis beat Dayton both times last season with 2-0 scores and won the regular season championship.
“I think we’ve got a great resume in terms of the teams we’ve played and our RPI,” Currier said, “We’re still unbeaten, along with our offense and our defense playing well and that is what is allowing us to win these games. Building that resume is really important, especially when it comes down to the end. We still need a few more wins here. But I’m very confident with the resume that we’ve built.”
Dayton built an early 2-0 lead against Kentucky with first half goals by Logan Brown and Basit Umar, but struggled to close out each half, giving up a goal with one minute before the half, and the tying goal with five minutes to play.
“That first half was one of the best halves we’ve ever had here at the University of Dayton,” Currier said. “We really were unfortunate not to be up 3-0, and then we got to the second half, and the wind picked up even more so we were just trying to hold on there toward the end.”