By: Jonny Jessup – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers men’s soccer team has had an up-and-down last few weeks as Atlantic 10 play draws nearer.
The squad is currently 4-3-1 on the season after recording their first draw of the season Sunday, 1-1, against Mid-American Conference opponent Western Michigan, a relatively balanced record that has produced flashes of brilliance along with some occasional setbacks.
The Flyers had alternated wins and losses in their last five games prior to the WMU game, going 3-2 in a stretch that began with a 4-1 win over Cleveland State Sept. 2.
“We’ve played well in all of our games,” head coach Dennis Currier said about his team’s performance so far this season. “We’ve taken the game and put our opponent on their back foot, outshooting them almost every game. We’re in a good rhythm.”
On the flipside, Currier sees room for improvement, and the 11th-year coach knows how costly mistakes can be.
“We’re going to have off moments, and in those moments, we’ve paid the price,” Currier said. “Like in the Oakland game [a 2-0 home loss Sept. 12], they played better in the last 45 minutes, and we leaked in 2 goals. We need to remain focused during the low times of the game.”
True enough, the Flyers have outshot their opponents in the six straight games following their season opener. Having said that, they have also committed more fouls compared to their opponent in four of their seven games.
It’s been the upperclassmen leading by example so far this season, and it’s showing in the points department. The team’s top-five scorers are all either graduate students, seniors or juniors.
Graduate student midfielder Amass Amankona has netted four goals so far this season, along with two assists for a team-high 10 points on the season. Goals count for two points statistically in college soccer, while assists count for one.
Senior forward Maik Schoonderwoerd is second on the team with seven points and has tallied three assists while knocking in two goals.
The Flyers have nine seniors, counting Amankona, which helps solidify a very deep and talented team. This strong leadership will be necessary as the Flyers face two tough upcoming matchups before beginning conference play.
Dayton will return home tonight to take on the Bowling Green Falcons, the Flyers’ second consecutive MAC opponent, at Baujan Field at 7. After this, the Flyers travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State on Friday before starting the Atlantic-10 stretch of their season.
Dayton will play eight conference games, four at home and four on the road, and will look to qualify for the Atlantic 10 Championships, hosted this season by George Mason in Fairfax, Virginia. The top eight teams in conference play qualify for the tournament.
Last season, the women’s soccer team reached the first round of the NCAA tournament, losing 4-0 to Virginia Tech. The Flyers hope to relive the ride of last season, but are off to a slow start with a 2-7 record, although they have won two of their last four games.
However, last year, despite a berth to the NCAA tournament, Dayton’s first eight games of the season showed a 2-5-1 record. This only proves that if the team can turn itself around, there’s no limit to where they can go this season.
Coming out of the gate this season, the Flyers found themselves 0-5, coming out on the losing end of a few close games, including a 2-1 home loss to Ohio State and a 1-0 home loss to Wright State. Eventually, they produced a 5-2 win over the Rice Owls and were looking to capitalize on their newly found momentum as they made a trip out to California last weekend for a pair of games.
The Flyers lost to Cal Poly, 4-1, Friday night and followed that up with a 2-1 win over UC-Santa Barbara Sunday. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Libby Leedom and senior forward Ashley Campbell scored for the Flyers as they returned home from California with a 1-1 split after losing to Cal Poly on Friday, 4-1.
The team boasts talent at all grades, however it is Campbell who is leading the way with three goals and three assists. Senior midfielder Nicole Waters leads the team with four assists. Junior forward/midfielder Meghan Blank also has produced two goals, along with sophomore midfielder/forward Sidney LeRoy.
The Flyers are also getting contributions on defense from a couple of freshmen. Goalkeeper Kaelyn Johns and defender Nadia Pestell have both started every game of the season so far in their first year on campus.
The Flyers will get the rest of September off and will resume play when they begin their conference slate on Oct. 1 on the road against Saint Louis.