By: Edward Perez – Staff Writer
The Dayton Flyers men’s soccer team will return to campus from Virginia as champions of the Atlantic 10 conference. All the hard work put in by the team paid off this past Sunday when the Flyers bashed Virginia Commonwealth 4-1 in the conference tournament final.
Along with being crowned champions of the A-10, the Flyers secured a spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament that kicks off on Thursday (For more info on their tournament matchup, check flyernews.com/flyers-win-atlantic-10-title-clinch-ncaa-berth). The Flyers have not taken part in the NCAA tournament since 2008, when they lost in the first round.
The Flyers previously faced VCU in the last game of the regular season on Nov. 7, and had the opportunity to win the conference’s regular season title, but the Rams upset them after the Flyers were holding a 2-0 lead in the 84th minute. The Rams leveled the game moments later, and scored the winning goal in overtime to deny the title to the Flyers.
The A-10 conference tournament took place in Fairfax, Virginia, on the campus of George Mason, and the Flyers went into Sunday’s final confident after claiming victories against Duquesne and Rhode Island in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Head coach Dennis Currier, who notched his 300th career win as a head coach against Rhode Island, said the team knew what to expect going up against VCU. They simply had to stay mentally sharp for the entire 90 minutes. It would be critical for the Flyers to score first and maintain the lead.
Similarly to their first confrontation, it didn’t take long for the Flyers score on the Rams, 15 minutes to be exact.
Senior midfielder Kissima Bojang fired the ball past the VCU goalkeeper to score his fifth goal of the season, after junior midfielder James Haupt set the shot up for him from outside the 18-yard box. The first half ended with Dayton in the lead with a score of 1-0.
The Flyers extended their lead in the 60th minute when senior defender Alex Amankwaah curled a shot from a free kick into the goal. The Rams responded 10 minutes later and added a goal to their score sheet.
The Flyers sealed the game with two goals in the 72nd and 79th minute from senior forward Maik Schoonderwoerd (his 10th this season) and senior defender Carlos Sendin.
The Flyers dominated the game and had 22 shots on goal throughout the match, whereas the Rams only managed 9.
The Flyers set a new record of 55 goals in the season thus far, through Sunday’s game, which is the most in school history.
Several Flyers were named to the A-10 All-Tournament team. The Flyers selected included graduate student midfielder Amass Amankona, who was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and is a candidate for the national Senior CLASS award. Bojang, Haupt and Sendin were also included in the All-Tournament team.
Currier hailed Amankona as a special student athlete and said Amankona is a key difference maker.
He also said that advancing to the tournament is special for both the university and the athletes. He says the journey to this point in the season wasn’t an easy one and was filled with tough challenges, and that the team must continue to persevere in order to continue getting positive results.
Follow @FlyerNews for updates on the men’s soccer team in the NCAA Tournament