The University of Dayton men’s soccer team was disappointed the last time it walked off the pitch at Baujan Field.
With a chance to clinch the regular season Atlantic 10 title on senior day, the Flyers watched a 2-0 lead against VCU disappear in the final five minutes of a 3-2 overtime loss.
“We didn’t think we would get to play again at home,” said Flyers leading scorer Amass Amankona. “It was not ours to lose, but now we can take back our home field. We have nothing to lose.”
The Dayton seniors found out they will get one last game at Baujan when the NCAA Division I bracket was unveiled Monday afternoon.
The Flyers, champions of the A-10 tournament, will host Horizon League automatic qualifier Oakland (10-8-1) at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The opening-round game with Oakland marks the first men’s NCAA tournament game to be played at Baujan Field.
“That came out of the blue,” said Flyers coach Dennis Currier, whose team is 13-5-3. “We thought we would be traveling. It is quite a surprise and it is going to be good for the university, the fans, the team and – usually – this team plays a lot better here.”
Oakland entered the Horizon League tournament as the second seed, but claimed the title with 1-0 win over sixth-seeded Wright State
Oakland defeated host Dayton 2-0 on Sept. 12.
“They have been there before and have a lot of great experience back,” Currier said of the Bears. “Records can be deceiving. Look at VCU, they didn’t have a real good record, but they were very talented, so from that we know we have to have a higher energy level.”
The Flyers defeated VCU a 4-1 on Sunday in the A-10 tournament championship game.
“After we lost (the regular-season finale) we told the guys that we had to keep our heads up and keep pushing,” Amankona said. “What we did in that game motivated us for the next game. We didn’t let it get in our heads.”
The Dayton-Oakland winner advances to the second round to face Ohio State on Sunday. Dayton dropped a 2-0 decision at Ohio State on Sept. 25.
Currier is among those hoping this last walk off Baujan Field is a lot better than the first last walk for the seniors.
“It is very rewarding for this class because they have suffered a lot of heartbreaks and have learned soccer can be a cruel game,” Currier said. “They have been in the hunt and won a lot of games, but have just fallen short. It (watching the selection) was a very rewarding afternoon just because of everything they have been through.”