Nov. 7, 2008
ST. LOUIS - Junior Mandi Back put away the game winner in the 63rd minute to give the University of Dayton a 2-1 victory over No. 3-seeded Fordham in the semifinals of the 2008 Atlantic 10 Women's Soccer Championship Friday night at Hermann Field. The victory gave Head Coach Mike Tucker his 200th career win and sent the Flyers to the finals for the seventh time.
"I wasn't really thinking 200," said Tucker. "All it means is I've been around for a long time. I was thinking about this win and getting into the final. These girls have really made this so enjoyable. I'm really looking forward to win No. 250. I'm just looking to 201 now."
Junior Colleen Gibson, with great vision, fed ball down the left side to Back who took a few dribbles and blasted a ball past the keeper in the 63rd minute. Both are two-time First Team all-Atlantic 10 selections; Back notched her team-leading eighth goal of the season and Gibson dished out her team-leading ninth assist on the year.
"Those two should be combining for a goal a game," said Tucker. "Our goal is for Colleen to be leading the nation in assists next year with Mandi as such a scoring threat."
Back had two great opportunities leading up to her game-winning goal. She had a blast just hit the post in the 62nd minute and then almost put away a goal on a header from Kim Sacher's free kick 30 seconds later.
"Mandi had two more great opportunities and with a little patience she could have had a hat trick," said Tucker.
The Flyers (15-5-1) struck early, capitalizing on a corner kick in the 4th minute. Sophomore Kelly Blumenschein sent a ball in the box on a corner and after the ball bounced around in the box it landed at Kelsey Owen's feet. The freshman, who scored the golden goal in UD's 3-2 overtime win against the Rams during the regular season, sent the ball to the back of the net for her fifth goal of the year.
"You never want to play from behind," said Tucker. "After Kelsey's goal we got a little defensive and sat back. Then we really started to really attack."
The lead didn't last long, however, as the officials awarded the Rams (12-6-2) a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box. Catherine Huvane converted to tie it up in the 13th minute.
The Flyers held a 7-3 shot advantage after the first half, and ended the game with a 17-12 lead on shots.
Senior Deana Waintraub had four saves in goal for the Flyers, including a huge stop early in the second half in the 53rd minute when Fordham had a break away chance. Dayton improves to 10-1-3 all-time against the Rams, who knocked the Flyers out of the tournament in the semifinals last season on penalty kicks (4-3).
"I give Fordham so much credit for playing back-to-back nights," said Tucker. "They battled us and played with a lot of heart. Last year's game we had it in hand and let it get away. Tonight we just went out and got the job done."
Dayton advanced to the Championship game this Sunday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. against the No. 1 seeded Charlotte. The Flyers advanced to the championship game for the first time since 2004. UD has played in the championship game seven times, winning five times.