By: Edward Perez – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers men’s soccer season officially got underway after kicking off in an exhibition match on Aug. 15 against West Virginia on Baujan Field’s new playing surface.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw. Senior midfielder Maik Schoonderwoerd scored in the 25th minute to give the Flyers the lead at halftime. Junior midfielder Tommy Harr added to the Flyers lead in the 58th minute, but the Mountaineers brought the game level with goals in the 63rd and 75th minutes.
The draw at Baujan gave insight to Dayton head coach Dennis Currier as to where the team stood and what needed to be improved before their next match, an exhibition against Butler on Sunday. The Flyers faced and fell to the Bulldogs in their opening exhibition match prior to last season.
“What we did really well in that game was show a [strong] attacking side,” Currier said. “We really got West Virginia on their back foot.”
Currier added that West Virginia was a strong competitor in the NCAA last year and had many of their returning players, making it clear the Flyers faced a difficult opponent.
“Where we fell short was some poor fouls in the second which led to some set pieces, allowing them to get back in the game,” Currier said. “We outplayed them a bit then we mentally lost some focus and that resulted in two goals for them.”
With the team he has for the 2015 season, Currier said the focus is on the returning players to lead the team and make an impact in every game.
“We have a big group of seniors who all need to step up to that role,” Currier said, “Last year we were very young in leadership.”
Currier stressed that he wants players such as junior James Haupt, Schoonderwoerd, senior Mike Frasca and senior Brian Bates to be leaders, especially the seniors now that it’s their final season.
In terms of the new players this year, Currier feels they can add a lot of depth to the team. He has hopes that target forward and first year Kennedy Nwabia can strengthen the attack of the team and that transfer defenders Carlos Sendin and Blake McNelis, who joined the program from West Virginia Tech and Creighton, respectively, can both contribute to the team’s defense in front of junior goalkeeper Justin Saliba.
One of our goals this year is to take revenge and beat the teams that beat us last year.
The team has set some goals to accomplish in the 2015 season, and Currier wants his team to win the Atlantic 10 conference and go far in the NCAA tournament. In the process, he wants the Flyers to get as many shutouts as they can and concede very few goals.
“One of our goals this year is to take revenge and beat the teams that beat us last year,” Haupt said.
The Flyers first opportunity to do this was in an exhibition against Butler on Sunday. Dayton lost to the Bulldogs in an exhibition match last year, 2-1. The Flyers did indeed get their revenge, beating Butler, 5-4 at Baujan Field. Schoonderwoerd and Sendin each scored twice for Dayton, and Harr opened up the scoring with a goal in the fourth minute.
The Flyers scored four goals on four shots on goal in the first half, and Schoonderwoerd converted a penalty after Sendin was brought down in the box in the 53rd minute.
The Flyers will partake in the James Madison Tournament to open the season, and will play a handful of nonconference games before the A-10 conference season kicks off on Oct. 3, with the Flyers facing Duquesne in Pittsburgh. Dayton’s regular season home opener is Sept. 2, when the Flyers host Cleveland State at 7 p.m.