SALUTE TO CHAMPIONS: Women's Soccer
Twice a week this summer, Atlantic10.com will feature a sport-by-sport look back at the 2014-15 season and championships. Check back each week for a review of each sport. Today's look back: Women's Soccer.
Third-seeded Dayton Flyers won its ninth A-10 Championship crown on its home turf at Baujan Field, defeating top-seed La Salle Explorers, 2-1.
La Salle scored early in the contest, when Paige McDowell sent a free kick into the box. A-10 Offensive Player of the Year, Kelsey Haycook played the bounce perfectly and headed the ball past UD goalie Heather Betancourt in the third minute of play. The goal was Haycook's 20th of the season, who entered the Championship ranked second nationally in season goals.
The Explorers led 1-0 until the 69th minute when Alexis Kiehl and Nicole Waters set up a pass from the inside the 18 box towards a waiting Erin O'Malley who headed it in against Jessica Wiggins for the equalizer.
Less than three minutes later, the Flyers netted the eventual game-winner as O'Malley crossed a ball into Megan Herr, the junior's first goal on the season.
O'Malley, who recorded two goals and an assist in the Championship, was named Most Outstanding Player. Against Saint Joseph's in the first round, O'Malley netted the game-winning goal to advance to the semifinals. She also assisted on Megan Herr's game-winner in the Championship.
Joining O'Malley on the All-Championship team are teammates Alexis Kiehl, Nicole Waters, Heather Betancourt and Ashley Campbell. Making the team for La Salle were Jessika Kagan, Kerri Aiken, Maryam Huseini and Kelsey Haycook. Saint Joseph's Emily Gingrich, George Washington's Kate Elson, and VCU's Jackie Ernest also earned All-Championship honors.
La Salle won the regular season after completing a perfect 8-0 conference slate and claimed three of the A-10’s top women’s soccer awards. Haycook and Aiken were named Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively, while Paul Royal won his third Coach of the Year nod in four seasons. Dayton's Waters was named Midfielder of the Year, while Richmond freshman Meaghan Carrigan earned Rookie of the Year honors.
In NCAA action, La Salle fell 2-0 to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the first round at Yurcak Field. La Salle's senior class retires after leading the Explorers to four straight NCAA Tournaments, three Atlantic 10 regular season championships, two A-10 Tournament championships and the most wins by a class (61) in program history.
Dayton also fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 4-0 to No. 14 Virginia Tech at Thompson Field. The Hokies scored four first-half goals and the Flyers couldn't recover, despite playing a solid second half. UD's seniors won three A-10 regular/tournament championships and made two NCAA appearances. They are 19th nationally in wins throughout their collegiate careers (59).