Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy of Dayton Athletics

CHICAGO - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The University of Dayton played in its first ever NCAA Men's Soccer Championship against No. 15 UIC this Friday at Flames Field. The Flyers played with everything they had and fought the nationally-ranked Flames to a 0-0 double overtime tie. After 110 minutes on the pitch, the game was decided on penalty kicks and UIC prevailed 3-1 and now go on to play at No. 9 Michigan State in the second round.

"I would like to congratulate UIC for advancing and to congratulate our guys for the hard fight they put in tonight. It the first time we've ever played in the national tournament," said UD head coach Dennis Currier. "I thought UIC had the better of the match and our goalkeeper kept us in the game. You never want to see a game end on penalty kicks, but I thought the better team tonight advanced."

The UD defense withstood a barrage of UIC shots which included the Flames cranking away seven to Dayton's none in the first 45 minutes. The times UIC did get behind Dayton's first line of defense, freshman goalkeeper Tyler Picard was a wall, turning away every Flame opportunity.

"The thing about the Flyers is that they are fighters. They work extremely hard, and they have a lot of heart and passion. They're like one big family," said Currier.

Picard finished with four saves and posted his seventh shutout of his UD rookie season. Junior Ryan Handbury, sophomore Tommy Watkins and freshman Jack Pearson, along with the rotation of juniors Randy Dennis and Sonny Renner, made up the stingy Dayton defense that turned UIC away time and again.

"Tyler had a fantastic game. He has been playing great for us," said Currier. Junior Ben Murray took Dayton's lone shot of the match. He found himself open about 25 yards out and blasted a shot that just went over the crossbar late in the second half.

"UIC did a good job of keeping us pinned in at our end. We never got a real good balance on the field tonight. Normally we hold the ball real well up top, but our boys just had a difficult time and couldn't get it forward," said Currier. "So that's when we started working on playing a little more direct and see if we couldn't get some set pieces. In the attacking third, we are very dangerous but we just never got forward enough."

Picard made a nice save in the 98th minute on a shot by Matt Spiess that allowed the game to be sent into a second overtime.

"I thought we stayed tight and our defense was really solid all game," said Picard. "Our defense did an outstanding job of not allowing any dangerous shots. They came through a couple of times and made the saves I needed to make. I just wanted to keep the team in it."

Dayton's best opportunity for a score in the second overtime came on a corner kick by senior Simeon Zapryanov in the 103rd minute.

UIC's goalkeeper Jovan Bubonja started off the shootout with a make against Picard. Zapryanov evened it up with a blast to the lower right side of the net. UIC made its next two attempts while Dayton's were not converted. Picard got his hands on Baggio Husidc's attempt but the ball somehow squeezed by. Picard made a spectacular diving save on Charlie Trout's attempt to keep the Flyers' hopes alive. Dayton missed on the next attempt and UIC advanced, 3-1.

Dayton's dream season ended with a school-record 15-4-3 record. The Flyers saw their season end on penalty kicks for the second consecutive year. In 2007 UD saw its season end after UMass advanced 4-3 on penalty kicks in the Atlantic 10 Championship.