Dayton men’s soccer undefeated and climbing in national poll

Forster Ajago, of Ghana, is tied for team lead in goals

Kids grow up in Ghana dreaming of playing soccer in Europe, Forster Ajago said Wednesday.

The Dayton Flyers senior forward, one of the leading goal scorers for one of the best offenses in the country, had that same dream. Then he learned about the University of Dayton from assistant coach Alex Ranalli, who saw him play in his home country.

“Sometimes life and dreams change,” Ajago said. “When it came to education and soccer, I had to go for it. You need school for life after soccer.”

Ajago, the son of Anita and Cletus Danghe Ajago, who live in Navrongo, Ghana, credited his dad for stressing the importance of education. Of course, now that he’s in the United States and playing for a program that has consistently provided a path to professional soccer, the dream of playing at the next level is real.

“First of all, it’s about the team’s dream,” Ajago said, “and the team’s dream is to win. When the team wins, everybody wins.”

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Winning is all Dayton has done so far this season. It improved to 5-0 with a 2-0 victory Thursday against Eastern Illinois (1-3-1) at Baujan Field. Ajago scored on a penalty kick in the 64th minute. Andy Sanchez, a senior forward/midfielder from Venezuela, added a goal in the 86th minute.

“It was a frustrating night having 51 shots and only scoring two goals,” said head coach Dennis Currier said in a story posted to the school’s website. “Our overall accuracy was just off tonight. I have to give a lot of credit to EIU’s goalkeeper as well, coming up with 13 saves. Ultimately, we found a way to win and will continue to work on improving this week in training for the start of our conference play.”

This is Dayton’s first 5-0 start since 2013 when it opened the season with 10 straight victories and finished 14-2-3. Dayton climbed to 18th in the United Soccer Coaches poll that season.

The Flyers moved to 17th in the poll earlier this week after a 4-1 victory at Kansas City (2-3) on Saturday. Dayton has outscored its five opponents 20-3. It starts Atlantic 10 Conference play at 7 p.m. Saturday at home against Saint Joseph’s (0-2-3).

Dayton ranks second in the nation in goals per game (4.0) behind Charlotte (4.4). Ajago and Sanchez both have four goals and two assists.

“It’s always a dream of every every athlete or every soccer player to be winning and to be scoring,” Ajago said. “The team, the coaches, everybody’s happy, so we have to keep the same momentum and the same energy.”

Ajago led the team with six goals last season. That was his first season at Dayton. Even though he planned to play at UD after meeting Ranalli, he started his soccer career in the United States at the University of Delaware. He spent only a semester there before changing his mind and transferring to Dayton.

“I realized Dayton is home,” Ajago said.

Ajago has had to adjust to life in the United States. The food, the weather, the language, everything’s different from home. That’s true for half the team. Sixteen of the 32 players on the roster are from other countries, and three are from Ghana.

“We have a very diverse group,” Dayton coach Dennis Currier said before the season. “Even within the United States, we’ve got kids from all over. We’ve got kids from Texas and Utah, and obviously, we have kids from Ohio. We’ve got kids from Florida. Then you add in guys from all over the world. We have Liberia, Ghana, Senegal, Norway. It’s really interesting. I like talking to the guys about growing up and learning their cultures.”

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