Dayton Flyers to play Ohio State in NCAA women’s soccer tournament

Dayton players celebrate after hearing their name called on the NCAA women’s soccer selection show Monday. David Jablonski/Staff
Dayton players celebrate after hearing their name called on the NCAA women’s soccer selection show Monday. David Jablonski/Staff

UD advanced by winning A-10 championship Sunday.

The Dayton Flyers moved to the edge of their seats when they saw Ohio State’s name pop up on the bracket during the NCAA women’s soccer selection show Monday.

“Please!” one player said.

“Shhh!” said another, trying to quiet a group of players eager to see their name.

The wait ended seconds later, and the Flyers celebrated with fellow athletes from the volleyball and baseball teams in a watch party at the Frericks Center. Dayton will play at Ohio State at 6 p.m. Saturday in the first round in Columbus at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The winner plays Northern Kentucky or West Virginia in the second round.

Dayton (9-9-3) qualified for the tournament by winning three games in the Atlantic 10 tournament. They won the championship Sunday, routing St. Joseph’s 7-0 in Kingston, R.I.

“It’s enjoyable because of the struggles we had earlier in the year,” coach Mike Tucker said, “and it’s also enjoyable because this is the best group of young ladies I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. You want to see them have success. They have a flair for the dramatic. They turned it on the right time and got it done. Now let’s keep it going.”

This will be Dayton’s 10th NCAA tournament appearance and fifth in the last eight years. The Flyers last played in the tournament in 2014 and lost 4-0 at Virginia Tech in the first round.

Dayton last won a NCAA tournament game in 2010, beating Virginia Tech 3-0 in the first round. The Flyers played Ohio State in the second round that year and lost in a penalty-kick shootout. Tucker knows Ohio State well.

“I know most of the players,” he said. “The last couple years, they’ve changed their style and they’re a hard team to play against, but it’s a good matchup for us because we tend to play well against teams that play the same kind of style as us, possession style. They’re very athletic. They’re geared for the Big Ten. They’re big and strong. They’ve had success at every level, but I don’t think we’re going to be tremendously affected by any of that.”

The Flyers are 3-10-1 all time against the Buckeyes, who are 10-6-3 and qualified for the tournament as an at-large team.

Dayton started the season 0-4. Now the sky’s the limit. It has extra motivation because this is Tucker’s final season.

“We’re trying to prolong his retirement as long as we can,” senior defender Libby Leedom said. “He’s been a great coach for us and hopefully he can go out on the highest note yet. We’re hitting our stride at the right time, and hopefully we can continue it as long as we can.”