DAYTON, O.H. - Despite falling 3-1 to the Dayton Flyers in the final game of the regular season on Sunday afternoon, the Charlotte 49ers women's soccer team will advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament. A Saint Louis loss to Xavier allowed the Niners to secure a top-six spot in the conference standings. With the loss, the 49ers conclude the regular season with a 7-9-4 overall record and a 4-4-1 conference mark. The Flyers improve to 16-3 on the season (7-2 A10).
"We're super excited to be going to the Tournament," head coach John Cullen said after the game. "To win in the Tournament, you have to get there first, so we're very appreciate of that. We played well today, but we pushed up late looking for the tying goal and left ourselves open for Dayton to score their third."
Dayton took an early lead in the match when Kelsey Smigel scored her 10th of the season in the 10th minute of play. Colleen Williams had the initial shot, and Smigel collected the rebound and put it away for the 1-0 lead.
The Flyers struck again less than 10 minutes later, with the Smigel-Williams pair working together again to put the home team up by two scores. Dayton's Juliana Libertin started the play with a corner, which was tipped by Williams and put in by Smigel.
Charlotte pulled within a goal in the 35th minute, when senior Oni Bernard scored her fifth goal of the season. An Amanda Jones corner was tipped by senior Jenna McKeon in front of the net. Bernard was able to finish low to get the 49ers on the board.
Following the tally, the Niners pushed forward looking for the equalizer for the rest of the half. Senior midfielder Macky Wingo took two shots before the end of the half that were tipped away by Flyers' keeper Jordin Melchert for corners, but Charlotte was unable to capitalize on either opportunity.
Bernard had a shot saved by Melchert seven minutes into the second half, but that was about all the offense the 49ers could muster for the remainder of the match, with Dayton holding a 9-2 shot advantage in the second frame. Jenna McKeon made one final attempt for the Niners in the 67th minute, but her try was just high over the crossbar.
Then, in the 89th minute, Dayton made it a 3-1 game as Williams beat the Charlotte defense and scored on a pass from Smigel.
In the game, Dayton led 20-10 in shots, though Charlotte had a 9-3 advantage in corners. Three different Niners had two shots apiece, including Bernard, Wingo and Jonna Handra.
Natalie LaVigne made two saves in net while allowing all three goals. Merchert made three saves between the pipes for Dayton.
The 49ers will play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament next week in Dayton, with official seeding still to be determined. The Quarterfinals will be held Thursday, November 3rd at a time to be determined.