Flyers Stun No. 11 Charlotte, 3-0
Oct. 30, 2009
DAYTON, Ohio - The University of Dayton men's soccer team celebrated senior night with a 3-0 win over No. 11 Charlotte at Baujan Field Friday. The Flyers celebrated 11 seniors prior to the match and then dominated the 49ers in front of a crowd of 1,215. Seniors played a part in all three UD goals against Charlotte (9-2-4, 5-1-0 A-10), the highest ranked team UD Head Coach Dennis Currier's team has ever beaten.
"It was an electrifying atmosphere. You could feel it right from the kickoff and I think it started an hour before the game," said Currier. "There was a great pregame video. As soon as we saw the fans out come out we knew it was going to be special.
"Then to celebrate our seniors; you are excited for them but it is also in the back of your mind that you are going to lose them. They all played such a big role in progress here in Dayton and they really laid a great foundation for us," added Currier. "To see those guys be able to contribute to this win was just special."
Senior Alex Torda scored the game winner in the seventh minute for the Flyers on a perfect set piece. In fact, the Flyers scored all three goals on set pieces. Dayton (10-4-1, 5-1-0 A-10) has won 10 of its last 11 games.
Just 6:26 into the match, on the first shot of the evening, senior Ryan Handbury placed a perfect ball into the box from about 30 yards out. Torda came crashing in from the far post and headed it away behind the Charlotte defense.
Sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Picard gave UD a huge boost by saving an Adam Gross penalty kick in the 27th minute. Picard finished the match with three saves. The back four of seniors Handbury, Kyle Basil and Randy Dennis, along with junior Tommy Watkins and sophomore Jack Pearson helped UD post its seventh shutout of the season. It was just the second shutout the 49ers had suffered this season.
"Tyler blocking that PK meant a lot and you really felt it was going to be a close game and we might have to go to overtime," said Currier. "Tyler Picard was excellent tonight with the PK save and our defense was just really solid. The thing they did great tonight was the defensive clearances."
Just minutes before halftime senior Isaac Kissi gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead. This time the perfect pass came from fellow senior Sonny Renner on a free kick from nearly the same spot as the first goal. Renner put a perfect bend into the box and Kissi one-timed it to the back of the net.
Early in the second stanza, senior Peter Chilemena put away the third goal of the match. The set piece was beautifully orchestrated as Handbury kicked it far post, freshman Evan McCreary redirected it across the box and Chilemena was there to finish it.
In UD tradition, all seniors were honored before the match and after each international player was announced, their national anthem was played.
Handbury, of Nottingham, England, listened to "God Save the Queen", the British national anthem next to his father who had not seen him play in a year. "My dad has been watching me since I was little," said Handbury. "To have him here is special to me and it brings joy to me. He was here representing my family and the last time he saw me play was exactly a year from this day."
Dayton posted its seventh shutout of the season and improves its record to 10-4-1 and 5-1-0 in Atlantic 10 play.
"This game was real emotional because it just brings home that the four years really flew by," said Handbury. "It just makes you want to win like this for people like (Kyle) Basil and (Ryan) Hartman. We defended phenomenal tonight and we did not have a load of chances but took them when we had them."
Senior Jeff Popella, who has been battling injuries this season, notched a team-high three shots for the Flyers.
"We proved that we are the team to beat," said Popella. "There was a lot of emotion tonight. People coming back from last year and people's families were here. Everyone wanted to do it for each other and each other's families. It was so much deeper tonight than winning a soccer game.
"They are a good team. We knew if we did everything right then we would beat them. There wasn't any doubt that they were a better team than us," added Popella. "For me, I was not going to lose this game for the fans, for my family. We came out flying tonight. We had to match their intensity and we passed it tonight. That was a huge win tonight and hopefully we get more national recognition."
All 11 seniors saw playing time in the upset over the 11th ranked 49ers.
"With a 3-0 lead, we did everything we could to get all the seniors on the field," said Currier. "It doesn't always work because of time and how the ball bounces. It was great they all got on the field."
Dayton hosts perennial power Saint Louis this Sunday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. ET at Baujan Field.