DAYTON, Ohio - Three seniors scored in the University of Dayton's 4-0 win over Xavier Friday night at Baujan Field. The victory gives the Flyers at least a share of the 2009 A-10 regular season title. With a win at St. Bonaventure Sunday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m., UD would win the title outright.
"We have been talking about this all year. Tonight was the last night the seniors would play on this field and I thought all of them were fantastic throughout the entire game. The seniors have shown a lot of perseverance. We are all like one big family," said UD Head Coach Dennis Currier. "We wanted to get one of those top two seeds. That means a lot to us. We've still got a game away at St. Bonaventure so we'll do what we have to do up there."
Jeff Popella, who had a game-high six shots, tallied two goals for UD, now 12-4-1, 7-1-0 A-10.
The senior scored the game-winner in the 29th minute on a sweet give-and-go from fellow senior Alex Torda. Popella had a ferocious finish to the upper 90, and it was all the Flyers would need.
Popella scored again in the 59th minute on assists from freshman Evan McCreary and senior Ryan Handbury. Handbury served it into the box, McCreary headed it across the goal and Popella closed in with a one-touch blast past the keeper.
Torda added a goal to go with his assist in the 70th minute to give the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead. Senior Sonny Renner placed a perfect chip on a free kick over the top of the Xavier wall and Torda headed it in for the score.
With 23 seconds left in the match senior Ryan Hartman scored his first goal of the season. Junior Tommy Watkins and Peter Chilemena set him up, and Hartman took care of the rest with a chip shot over the keeper who had snuck too far out.
"That goal just made my year. That's the shot I look for. My first inclination was to shoot as soon as it came," said Hartman. "We were already up three-nill, so why not? We haven't beat Xavier since I've been here, so that was huge in of itself.
"We knew we had a chance to clinch and we had a chance to do something the seniors have not done in our careers," added Hartman. "With it being our last night at Baujan, we all wanted to come out and not only win, but win big. This year we feel like things are clicking a lot better and we can't wait to make a statement."
Chilemena just about had a goal of his own at the buzzer with a beautiful half volley, but was called offsides.
Dayton's defense has given up just two goals in A-10 play and posted their ninth shutout of the season with the 4-0 blanking of the Musketeers.
"It was a special one tonight. We knew it was going to be our last game for the seniors on this field. The red cards obviously spiced it up a bit. But plain and simple, tonight was just special," said senior defender Ryan Handbury. "The guys work so hard. To turn our season around and have the confidence we have now is just incredible. Everyone was energetic and ready to win. We knew we had a chance to get that top seed; we really went all out."