Aug. 19, 2008
The University of Dayton men's soccer annual Blue and White Game will be played at Baujan Field Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
The intra-squad scrimmage will give fans a sneak peak at the 2008 Flyers, including preseason All-Atlantic 10 selection Alex Torda, who was also recently named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List, featuring 48 of the best Division I intercollegiate men's soccer players.
Admission to the Blue and White game is free for all fans.
The Flyers posted a dramatic 3-2 win over the Kentucky Wildcats on Monday at Baujan. UD plays at St. Louis Soccer Park against Central Arkansas this Friday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. in its final exhibition match of 2008.
Dayton's first test of the regular season will come in its own Dayton Marriott Flyer Invitational on Friday, Aug.29 when they take on Denver at 8 p.m. ET.
Check out the season preview to get an in-depth look at the Flyers.
University of Dayton Head Coach Dennis Currier knows his Flyers are so close they can see the gleam of the Atlantic 10 Championship trophy.
After finishing last season on a six-game unbeaten streak, UD posted a 10-4-5 record and advanced to the conference tournament, losing in the quarterfinals against Final Four participant Massachusetts, the only draw of the regular and postseason for the Minutemen.
"We outplayed a team that made it to the Final Four, but we did not advance because of penalty kicks," said Currier. "Our guys know we are close and we can play with the best. Now we have to convert those close games and ties into wins."
Now in his fourth season at the helm, Currier has seen the Flyers grow with each year and with that maturation, expectations increase.
"Our ultimate goal is to get to the final game of the A-10 tournament. We want to be in the Top Three at the end of the regular season," he said.
The poised, organized Flyer defense allowed less than a goal per game (.95) a year ago - third best in the A-10 - and everyone from that back line returns for 2008. Not only did the Dayton "D" handle opponents with a business-like demeanor, it displayed grit, heart and determination on its way to posting six shutouts. The back line has plenty of depth this season. Five players who consistently earned starts return. The corps include: junior Sonny Renner (3a), who started all 19 games at right back, juniors Ryan Handbury (19 starts) and Randy Dennis (18 starts, 1a), who serve as the two center backs, and sophomore Tommy Watkins (1a), who started nine games at left back, until he broke his leg in the ninth game of the season. Junior Zach Weiss (9 starts, 1a) stepped up and filled the spot with a seamless transition and the back four didn't miss a beat. Graduate student Daniel March (4 starts, 1g), who tore his ACL in early spring, should be ready for action once the season is underway. Along with March, incoming freshman Michael Dehyle will add further depth to an already impressive Flyer defensive unit.
"Like any good back four, one of the attributes is that they are very close on the field, and off as well. They are very organized. They know each other," said Currier. "Our right and left backs can get forward and attack. With our center backs we have one real athletic guy in Randy Dennis and next to him we have Ryan Handbury, who reads the game well and is very vocal."
Currier also added a freshman class that could make immediate impacts. Alex Frenz is a natural, left-footed player and will vie for time at left back. Jack Pearson could see time at center back, which would allow Handbury, who was named 2007 Third Team NSCAA/adidas Division I All-Region, to move up as a defensive midfielder.
"We feel very comfortable with our back four," said Currier. "We have a handful of guys that can come in and push for playing time which gives us a lot of depth back there."
With the departure of fifth-year senior goalkeeper Zac Gibbens, who played every minute in goal for the Flyers and earned Honorable Mention All-Atlantic 10 in 2007, UD will have a new face in goal. The Flyers have two returning keepers and both performed soundly in the spring: redshirt freshman Matt Barnes and redshirt junior Alex Davis. Currier also brought in two newcomers: freshman Patrick Hardt, a very technical keeper who has ODP regional experience and led his club team to the national championship game, and a transfer from Creighton, redshirt sophomore Tyler Picard. He is coming from one of the top programs in the country and has a year of experience at the college level under his belt.
"Right now it's a tough call to see who will be able to lead us in the nets," said Currier. "With those four competing though, we can find a starter."
Controlling the tempo is essential in Currier's attacking scheme and with a roster chock full of size and depth; this group will create a multitude of scoring chances.
First Team all-Atlantic 10 selection Alex Torda (6g, 5a) leads the Flyer attack as one of the most dynamic attacking players in the conference who can be utilized as a central midfielder, as well as a forward. Torda, who was also a 2007 First Team NSCAA/adidas Division I All-Region pick, came up huge for the Flyers all season long with his playmaking abilities and knack for finding the back of the net in clutch situations.
Torda, a junior named to the 2008 Hermann Trophy Watch List, will have plenty of help as sophomore Josh Albers (2g, 1a) and senior Joe Olwig (5g, 1a) are the top threats playing behind the front two runners as attacking central midfielders. Both provide athleticism, speed and offensive firepower.
Junior Isaac Kissi (13 starts, 1g) has the talent, size and versatility to provide UD with a dangerous attacking presence in midfield. Junior Ben Murray (12 starts, 1a) is coming off an injury, but returns to provide a steady, hard-working force in the middle. Weiss is another option at defensive midfielder as he is such a great utility player that he can play anywhere in the lineup. Freshman Lucas Young is impressive at 6-foot-5, giving the Flyers another dynamic option at central midfield. With all the depth on the back line, Handbury - one of the best one-v-one players on the squad - could be freed up to also play in the defensive zone of the midfield.
Albers and Weiss could also be employed as wings and newcomer Luke Baker can play at either the left or right flank, adding a dangerous presence out wide with his craftiness. Freshman Jonathan Sobey, who joined the Flyers last spring, could also see time in the midfield, along with transfer Johnny Daniels and freshman Jonny Phipps.
The Flyers return 83 percent of their scoring from last season. Senior Florian DeCamps (3g, 4a) and junior Jeff Popella (4g, 2a) are top contenders for starting spots up top, along with Torda. DeCamps, standing at 6-foot-4, is a great target forward who wears down defenders with his size. Popella is probably UD's most talented forward because he has size, speed and tremendous shooting ability.
Senior Simeon Zaprianov (2g, 1a) played very well off the bench last season and, with consistency, will see more time this year. Junior Ryan Hartman is another forward who came up big for the Flyers late in the season. He consistently works hard, especially in the offseason, and can grow to become another dynamic up top. Freshman Mario Falsetti will round out the Flyers offensive corps.
The Flyers have 18 regular season contests, as well a home exhibition game against the Kentucky Wildcats. Dayton will play nine regular season home games and in addition the Flyers will participate in four tournaments in 2008, including two they will host at Baujan Field.
"The tournaments will get us used to playing conference Friday and Sunday games with not much of a rest in between," said Currier. "Plus, you are always playing for a tournament championship which helps prepare for the postseason."
Celebrating the 10th Year Anniversary of the A-10 Championship
In addition to the 18 regular season contests, this season the Flyers will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 1998 UD men's soccer team that won the A-10 Championship.
"Across the country the programs that do well, year in and year out, are the ones that have great history. Dayton has always had a great history," said Currier. "We would love to celebrate that 10th year anniversary by winning the A-10 championship this year."