In the second of their two exhibition games, the Toppers defeated Dayton 4-3 behind two goals from sophomore forward A.J. Ray. The transfer from Alabama A&M scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute after coming off the bench.
The game was 180 degrees different from last season when Dayton pounded Western 6-0 in an exhibition game, said junior midfielder Daniel Payne.
“We weren’t even in the game last year,” Payne said. “Coming out, we knew we could play with them. We knew they were going to come out over confident because they beat us so badly last year.”
The Flyers were ranked as high as No. 8 last season in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll and finished with a 12-5-2 record.
Coach Dave Holmes said the win was positive, but the Toppers have a lot to work on before the season opening match Friday against Oral Roberts in the Memphis Tournament.
“It was a stereotypical exhibition game,” Holmes said. “It was ragged on both ends. Four to three is not your typical soccer score. I think we look like we could be a dangerous attacking team. We have some work to do defensively. But I think the mistakes we made were correctable mistakes.”
Goalkeepers Matt Latimer and Kyle Schroeder each played a half in the win over the Flyers. Latimer allowed two goals, one on a penalty kick and Schroeder allowed one. Latimer finished with four saves and Schroeder had one.
“We still have some kinks to work out,” Latimer said. “But we worked hard and came out with the win.”
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Ryan Simpson did not see any playing time in the exhibition.
The Toppers fell behind early 1-0 when Aaron Swanson scored 10 minutes into the game. Latimer said giving up the early goal was disheartening, but wasn’t something that would ruin his game.
“Being a goalkeeper, you have to have a short-term memory,” he said. “If you get down when you get scored on, it is a lot easier for them to score another goal.”
Western tied the game 18 minutes and 29 seconds later when Ray scored the first of his two goals.
Dayton took its final lead of the game when Tye Stebbins’ penalty kick got behind Latimer.
Reach Michael Casagrande at [email protected]