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2014 UD Women's Soccer Preview
2014 UD Women's Soccer Preview
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile 2014 UD Women's Soccer Preview

Last Season: 14-5-2 (7-1)
A10 Regular Season Champions
A10 Tournament Finalist
No Postseason

If the ending to the 2012 UD Women’s Soccer season was difficult to accept – a PK shootout loss to VCU in the A10 Tournament Semifinals – then a PK shootout loss to LaSalle in last year’s A10 Championship felt like a roundhouse kick to the gut. Left out of postseason play in consecutive seasons by consecutive circumstances yielding consecutive results, the body of work was unable to overcome the crapshoot endings and left everyone with a bitter taste.

In some respects, the Flyers were fortunate to even make the A10 final and challenge for the automatic bid. After building a 5-1 lead over VCU in the 2013 A10 semis, they surrendered three goals in the final 30 minutes and barely hung on. The match was a microcosm of the entire season – lots of goals offensively and a lot of peaks and valleys on defense. Dayton scored in the first minute in the A10 Final, but LaSalle found the equalizer and performed better in PKs to win their second tourney title in a row. It was a difficult loss because Flyers haven’t beaten LaSalle in four years. UD sported a solid 14-5-2 record, but victories against teams with +.500 records were few and far between. With an RPI of 70, the A10 title game was UD’s only realistic chance to punch their postseason ticket.

After dominating the league for so many years, Dayton now finds itself on equal footing with another conference foe, and in some respects, chasing. The Explorers have figured out a way to beat the Flyers with excellent balance on offense and defense, and while UD won the 2013 A10 regular season title outright, the ultimate goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament has eluded Head Coach Mike Tucker and his staff over the past two seasons. Fans saw this same dynamic about six years ago when Charlotte ascended to the top of the league and forced UD to counter. While Flyer personnel took home last year’s A10 Offensive, Midfielder, and Defensive Player of the Year awards, those personal accomplishments aren’t replacements for making the dance card.

Can UD get over the hump and return to the NCAAs? Certainly, but it won’t be easy.


UD replaced 3-time All-American Colleen Williams last year. It doesn’t get much easier in 2014 as A10 Midfielder of the Year Juliana Libertin (7 gls, 16 asts) is no longer around to put up gaudy numbers as a goal scorer or setup artist. One of the true benchmark players of the program over the last decade, Libertin’s touch-line speed and supreme fitness gave the Flyers a weapon no other conference foe had. Her 16 assists were tied for third-best nationally, yet surprisingly, second-best on the team to fellow midfielder Nicole Waters.

Like Libertin, Stephanie Emery (9 gls, 3 asts) earned 2013 First Team A10 honors as a midfielder and grew into her role as a goal scorer from both short and long distance. While her career path developed more slowly than Libertin, Emery’s senior year was her best effort and she helped fill in the scoring gap left by Williams’ graduation.

Central defender Sarah Senoyuit (1 gl, 0 ast) took home A10 Defensive Player of the Year honors, an award that surprised some considering the up-and-down season of the Flyer back line. Senoyuit brought excellent size to the defense and was most dangerous when clearing dangerous high balls out of the defensive third, but she also struggled at times to play cleanly out of the back or stay assertive in her movements. The Flyers lacked ‘get out of jail’ recovery speed on defense and Senoyuit did not have an extra gear like former Flyer central defender Emily Kenyon to save everyone’s bacon. Yet to her credit, Senoyuit played her best soccer late in the year and had a terrific A10 tournament.

Meghan Scharer (1 gl, 1 ast) earned 2nd Team A10 honors in the back line – one of six Flyers named All-Conference. Scharer’s four-year career was much like her senior season – consistent. While she rarely electrified the crowd or dominated the run of play, she was the least mistake-prone of any Flyer defender. She played defense with good instincts and exploited her strengths -- while doing her best to mask any weaknesses. Like most outside defenders in Flyer lore, Scharer was usually undersized on game day, but made up for any physical limitations with a good effort and solid tactics.

Goalkeeper Jordin Melchert was an on-again/off-again starter for the Flyers, sharing duties with other players over her career. But she did not see action in 2013 as freshman Elizabeth James ate up most of the minutes.


Dayton lost considerable talent to graduation – four All-A10 players to be precise – but the two All-Conference players that do return are among the most talented players in the league. They are both juniors and also Canadian.

Ashley Campbell (18 gls, 5asts), the reigning A10 Offensive Player of the Year, is primed for a monster season and recently took part in the U20 Women’s World Cup as a member of the Canadian U20 National Team. Her gazelle-like strides and ability to play direct on long balls make her both dangerous and difficult to mark – especially for shorter defenders. Campbell’s challenge, and at times her liability, is being too passive in the run of play. Fans are hoping she injects her field presence unannounced on a more frequent basis and not lean so hard on her natural ability.

Fellow Canadian Nicole Waters (4 gls, 17 asts) returns and like Campbell, earned 1st Team A10 honors a year ago. She also led the nation in assists, a big reason why the Flyers finished 13th nationally in scoring. Waters was a U20 Canadian National Pool player, but did not make the World Cup team, an odd omission considering she has the best professional upside of any Flyer since Colleen Williams. Waters has two habits that allow her to play at an elite level every night – work ethic and physicality. Too many players at the collegiate level like to take plays off. She doesn’t. Waters also plays a physical bump-and-grind brand of soccer that translates well as the competition stiffens. Combine these two traits with excellent skills and strong soccer IQ and UD has a player that any coach at any level would love to have. But she may be forced to call her own number this year and accept more of the scoring burden, a role that’s been dominated by others over her first two seasons.

Senior Kelsey Smigel (2 gls, 0 ast) prefers to play up top as a striker, something she did so well as a freshman that it nearly earned her A10 Newcomer of the Year. But she’s struggled to find the secret sauce of that 13 goal/5 assist rookie campaign, tallying just six goals and four assists over the last two seasons. Her ability to find the back of the net is uncanny at times when she puts herself in the right spots, but doing so requires a lot of prep work before those goal-scoring opportunities blossom. As her work-rate goes, so does most of the goal scoring. It’s within her to be among the best strikers in the A10, and Dayton could use the help given the losses to graduation.

Senior MF Haley Keller (1 gl, 0 ast) -- like Rodney Dangerfield -- doesn’t get the respect she deserves. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t put up impressive stats, but her value in the midfield as both a ball-winner and distributor is compelling. Keller does what she is asked to do and without much drama, which is perfectly fine and fits in well with the talent surrounding her. Every team has a glue player and Keller gets our vote for keeping the Flyers organized and on task.

A pair of sophomores with promising futures team up with Keller in the midfield. Erin O’Malley (2 gls, 1 ast) earned A10 All-Rookie honors as a central mid, while Meghan Blank (2 gls, 2 asts) tap dances the touch line as an outside player that likes to push forward into gaps. O’Malley started all 21 games a year ago and played the third-most minutes of any field player. She has good size and plays a style like Waters, while Blank has the physique and run-rabbit-run panache of Juliana Libertin. Both players are neither Waters nor Libertin – yet – but the tools are there to be future All League talents.

Fellow senior Chelsea Rose (1 gl, 1 ast) has been a coaching favorite over the last four seasons. Splitting time as a defender or forward, Rose subbed into matches when other players were sputtering. Her work ethic juiced up a lethargic run of play and that energy oftentimes carried over to her teammates. Now a captain, her leadership becomes as important as her field duties.

Sophomore Diarra Simmons is supremely athletic, but played just 60 minutes last year as a striker. Junior MF Alyson Smigel, sister to Kelsey, played in just two matches a year ago and will also look to move up the pecking order.

Midfielder Libby Leedom cracked the starting lineup as a frosh in 2013, but an ankle injury in the third match scrapped the remainder of her season. Now a red-shirt frosh and one of last year’s top recruits, big things are expected. She brings good size to the central pitch and isn’t afraid to mix it up. According to Coach Tucker, she’s healthy and ready to go.

Midfielder Catherine Devitt, a Dayton Carroll HS product, redshirted in 2013 and has four years of eligibility.

Defensively, Dayton must replace a pair of All-A10 honorees (Senoyuit and Scharer). Allison Klinefelter returns however, a senior outside back and career starter for the Flyers. Klinefelter is steady and consistent, albeit matched to the fringes of her abilities at times – especially against larger and more physical defenders from BCS schools. She plays to her strengths however and is best on the team at anticipating the game and picking off passes. Klinefelter rarely strays from her defensive position to rocket forward on overlaps, choosing to distribute from her comfort zone rather than stretch away from her marking responsibility.

Junior Lesley Chilton played in 13 matches a year ago, but saw just 224 minutes of action. Originally focused on finding a home in the midfield, the coaching staff moved her to the back line in the offseason. The change may have paid off – Chilton was ‘in the rear with the gear’ in UD’s exhibition match against Xavier and performed well.

Sophomore Courtney Klosterman started five matches last year and is another option in the back line, while fellow sophomore Sara Byrne may have the inside track for a starting spot. Kathleen Golterman is another option on defense. The sophomore played sparingly last year but looked confident in the preseason and could be a breakout player in 2014.

Another likely name is junior Megan Herr. Herr started 10 games in 19 appearances last year and could be the heir apparent to Sara Senoyuit at central defender.

Sophomore GK Elizabeth James played the 2013 season start to finish and earned A10 All-Rookie honors in the process. At 6-0, she has superior size and a terrific wingspan between the pipes. She also spent much of her freshman season acclimating to college ball on the heels of a significant knee injury prior to her arrival. She has the tools to be very good and size that cannot be coached, but there is also work to be done.

Another option is RS junior Heather Betancourt. She played just 21 minutes last year and redshirted in 2012, but is ready and willing if given the chance.

No matter who patrols the net, goal kicks must improve. They were frighteningly short in 2013 and kept the Flyers in a defensive bunker that held matches hostage for extended periods. Other players were often asked to take the free kicks, but the solution was not ideal. Could goalkeeping duties hinge on free-kick prowess as much as soft hands?


The Flyers welcome a diverse class of newcomers that address several key needs both offensively and defensively.

Bowling Green GK transfer Jenna DiTusa started three matches a year ago for the Falcons and has three years of eligibility. Alexis and Kaitlynn Kiehl are sister products of Walnut Hills HS. Alexis was 2nd Team All State while Kaitlynn was All Southwest District. Both should help the Flyers right away somewhere in the offense. Nicolette Griesinger was 2nd Team All-State and will vie for a starting position as a defender or defensive midfielder. Sidney LeRoy comes from Dallas, TX, and showed decent offensive punch in the lone exhibition against Xavier. Abby Weigel (Turpin HS) is a 6-0 defender that brings much-needed size to an otherwise undersized back line. Emily Coudret (Fishers, IN) and Caitlin Carroll (Macomb, MI) should find a home somewhere in the midfield or defense. Coudret tallied 54 goals and 31 assists at the prep level, while Carroll was three-time All-State at Eisenhower HS.


The Flyers lined up a 2014 non-conference schedule that compares favorably to the best programs in the country. There’s enough meat on the bone to punch UD’s ticket into the NCAAs even before the A10 season commences in early October.

Dayton wastes no time by opening the season against preseason #9 Texas A&M on 8/22 in College Station, TX, followed by a match against Rice University two days later. Dayton opens the home schedule a week later against Cal-Santa Barbara and Murray State on 8/29 and 8/31 respectively. Dayton then travels to Columbus for a two-game tournament hosted by Ohio State. The Flyers take on the host Buckeyes on 9/5 followed by Indiana on 9/7. The Hoosiers are coached by former Flyer assistant Amy Berbery. Both IU and OSU were 2013 NCAA tourney participants.

Things go from difficult to diabolical as UD travels to the Bay Area for a pair of matches against #10 Santa Clara on 9/12, followed by #6 Stanford on 9/14. UD returns home the following week to face Ohio University (9/19) and Toledo (9/21). Dayton wraps up the non-con with a flight to Stillwater, OK, for a lone weekend match against Oklahoma State (RV).

The A10 schedule commences on 10/4 with a home match vs. St. Louis, followed by a two-game road trip to St. Joseph’s (10/10) and George Mason (10/12). The Patriots are coached by former Flyer star Diane Coleman Drake.

UD hosts LaSalle at Baujan Field on 10/17, followed by Fordham on 10/19. It will be the first time in five seasons the Explorers have faced the Flyers in Dayton.

A match at Richmond (10/25) is the lone contest of an abbreviated weekend. The season wraps up the following weekend with a split road/home travel schedule. The Flyers play at George Washington on 10/31 and scamper back to campus for the season finale against VCU on 11/2.

Overall, the schedule does what the schedule is designed to do: give the Flyers an opportunity to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Several matches against highly-ranked opposition are potential resume-builders, while other matches against the likes of OSU, Indiana, and Toledo aren’t much easier. The Flyers had a quality schedule last year but failed to win any of the marquee games; that kept UD out of postseason play as much as the PK shootout loss in the A10 Final.


… If Campbell and Waters are healthy and playing, the Flyers have a chance to be very good. These two players are as good as any tandem in the A10, but they must show quality teams beyond the A10 that they can succeed against the best of the best.

…If UD picks off a couple marquee non-conference foes and develops some early confidence, things may roll downhill for the remainder of the season. Never underestimate the value of early success. Winning and losing are habit-forming.

…If the re-tooled Flyer back line comes together earlier than expected and cleans up some of the defensive gaffs of the last two seasons, they’ve got a legitimate chance to compete against the best teams on the schedule. Dayton cannot beat the likes of Stanford or Texas A&M by 3-2 or 4-3 scores. They must keep the score down and find a game-winner. Dayton needs a defense to do just that.

…If Dayton’s goalkeeping becomes a team strength. Goal kicks must reach the vicinity of midfield and take the pressure off the back line. The ability to switch the field of play with one strike of the ball – or not – can be the difference between bending and cracking over a full 90 minutes.

…If other players step up and assume goal-scoring duties. Campbell cannot do it all, and neither can Waters as the only set-up artist. Kelsey Smigel, O’Malley, Blank, Leedom, and perhaps a couple newcomers must tag-team the scoring responsibility. Otherwise, opponents will simply double-up the Canadian duo and force others to beat them.

…If Dayton can knock off LaSalle at Baujan Field, it will provide a much-needed shot in the arm heading down the stretch and into A10 tournament play. It could also decide the A10 regular season champ and overall #1 seed.


…If the Flyer defense cannot coalesce early and continues to concede soft goals, the burden upon the offense to score three, four, or even five goals a match could spell trouble. Against the lesser foes on the schedule it’s not much of a worry, but the non-conference slate requires a much greater attention to detail in the defensive third.

…If UD strikes out on their non-conference opportunities, there may be no other ticket to the NCAAs beyond earning the league’s automatic berth. The players and coaches don’t want it to come down to the A10 Tourney, especially since the Flyers were victims of penalty-kick shootout losses in each of the last two seasons.

…If injuries to any of the major cogs pop up, everything changes. Murphy’s Law dictates that someone always goes down and/or a few players miss games due to concussions or other nagging bugaboos. It’s the unpredictable part of the game that can change the outlook of an entire season.


The A10 office released their preseason poll and the Flyers were picked first – narrowly – over the Explorers. We think head-to-head results matter and LaSalle has earned the right to stake its claim as the team to beat once again. Talent-wise, they are on par with the Flyers and have fewer question marks on defense. In UD’s favor is perhaps the best offensive duo in the league – Campbell and Waters. Waters might be the best overall player and professional prospect in the A10. The Flyers also host LaSalle at Baujan Field – a welcome advantage that’s long overdue.

Before the A10 season shakes out however, UD has a chance to make a big splash in the non-conference schedule. But can they? The odds are against it – at least against the likes of Texas A&M, Santa Clara, and Stanford. All three possess exponentially more talent and will be playing at home. Dayton’s most realistic opportunities come against Indiana, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State, but a sweep of those schools might be required to fatten the RPI enough for at-large consideration.

The biggest question mark remains on defense where UD has been un-UD-like over the last two or three seasons. What used to be a pillar of strength that turned opposing offenses neurotic has become a perennial work-in-progress. On the flip side, UD’s offense – once known for hair-pulling 1-0 results – has turned into one of the best scoring machines in the country. Can the defense coalesce and can the offense score enough goals to win the big matches?

The Flyers do have an ace in the hole: Baujan Field is home to the 2014 A10 postseason tournament. Dayton hosted and won the tournament in 2011 in dominating style, shredding UMass 5-1 in the title game. Perhaps the first matchup against LaSalle won’t matter as much if both teams are on a collision course in the league tourney. Once again they could be battling for conference supremacy and the automatic NCAA berth.

But fans are hoping the work will be done by then and Dayton will be positioning for NCAA seeding and nothing more. Looking back at the last two seasons, each team failed to make the NCAAs despite fielding a team comprised of a 3-time All American as well as Offensive, Midfielder, and Defensive Players of the Year. Is the 2014 team better?

It’s not that simple. You need to be good, but you also need a bit of luck and some great chemistry. Sometimes things come together at the right time and a program catches lightning in a bottle. It’s the intangible no one can predict, and that’s how a 5th place team in the A10 can reach the Elite-8 of the NCAA men’s basketball tourney.

While we wait for that flash of genius, we’ll pin the bullseye on LaSalle and label them the front-runner. To be fair, they’ve earned it. Dayton is the team most capable of knocking them off their perch however, provided they address the outlined concerns and play to their strengths. What cannot change are the expectations within the Flyer program: reaching the postseason every year. Several Top-20 teams and talented A10 foes will make it difficult, making the accomplishment all the more satisfying.

Wait -- did we just predict Dayton will make the NCAA Tournament? We’re always bullish on the Flyers, but something must change in 2014 in order to avoid a repeat of the last two seasons. The difference rests with the non-conference schedule. Should the Flyers pluck some high-hanging fruit, we believe the A10 results will be there to wrap up a bid on Selection Day.

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