Dayton beats Charlotte, 4-3, for second consecutive title

By Stephen Hewitt

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The Atlantic 10 women’s soccer season came to an end at Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon, as Dayton knocked off Charlotte, 4-3, in a double-overtime thriller to earn its second-consecutive championship and seventh in its history.

It was a game of catch up at first for the Flyers, as the 49ers’ Sam Huecker struck first with a penalty kick at 20 minutes, 56 seconds to give her team the early 1-0 edge.

Shortly after, Dayton answered with two goals of its own in a 10-minute span. Sophomore midfielder and A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Colleen Williams scored her 17th goal of the season at 29:58 off of a feed from senior Alli Giner to tie the game up.

Three minutes later, the Flyers took the lead when senior forward Jerica DeWolfe put home her sixth goal of the year, and Dayton held a 2-1 advantage heading into halftime.

The Flyers’ lead would not last for long, as Charlotte junior Oni Bernard took the ball, dribbled across the top of the box and sent it past Dayton goalkeeper Lisa Rodgers at 59:16 to tie the contest at 2-2.

The two teams exchanged goals again, including another from Bernard with nine minutes to go in regulation, and the game was tied 3-3 heading into sudden death overtime.

After a scoreless first overtime, Flyers sophomore Alexis Garcia found a loose ball inside the 49ers’ six-yard box and buried the golden goal in the 105th minute to earn Dayton the victory, the championship and an automatic qualification into the NCAA tournament.

Garcia was dubbed the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament for her efforts, scoring two goals, both of which were game-winners.

Dayton, Charlotte meet again

In 2009, Dayton and Charlotte met in the A-10 championship, with the Flyers cruising in the semifinals and the 49ers narrowly squeaking out its victory to advance to the title game.

This season, both teams met again in the championship, but took on opposite paths on its way there.

After defeating Saint Louis 5-1in the 2009 semifinals, Dayton had to wait 39 seconds into an overtime session in 2010’s contest against St. Bonaventure.

Alexis Garcia put away a rebound point blank after a shot from Williams to send the Flyers into the championship game.
After a close victory in the 2009 semifinals to advance to last season’s championship, Charlotte had a much more comfortable win this past Friday to advance to the title game.

Junior Macky Wingo scored a hat trick, all in the first half and also the first in league championship history, to lead the top-seeded 49ers to victory over sixth-seeded La Salle 3-1.

The championship game on Sunday marked the third consecutive season in which Charlotte and Dayton played for the championship.

Flyers dominate accolades

The A-10 All-Conference accolades were announced last week, and Dayton highlighted this year’s awards with several First Team and All-Rookie selections as well as some individual accomplishments.

Leading this year’s group of Flyers was sophomore Williams, who was named to the All-Conference First Team and named as the Offensive Player of the Year. Williams led the A-10 in points, goals scored, assists and game-winning goals.

Junior defender Kathleen Beljan, senior midfielder Jerica DeWolfe and senior goalkeeper Lisa Rodgers rounded out the Flyers’ selections on the First Team.

Additionally, Beljan was honored as the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year and DeWolfe was named the A-10 Midfielder of the Year.

Freshmen Juliana Libertin and Sarah Senoyuit were rewarded for their strong inaugural seasons, and were named to the A-10 All-Rookie team.

Dayton head coach Mike Tucker was also named as the conference’s coach of the year, leading the Flyers to an 18-3 record and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected]