'Pure joy' -- Dayton men's soccer team learns NCAA tournament opponent

Nov. 13—The Dayton Flyers men's soccer team brought the placard with the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament bracket back home from Richmond, Va. It stood on the floor in front of a screen showing the NCAA tournament selection show on Monday.

A day earlier, defender Logan Brown had the job of slapping the Dayton logo on the champions line of the bracket.

"All right, everybody ready?" Brown asked.

Brown attached the logo as everyone cheered around him or filmed the scene with their phones. The same party atmosphere was evident Monday when the Flyers gathered at the Frericks Center to see who they would play in the NCAA tournament. They didn't go quite as crazy when they saw a first-round game against Louisville pop up on the screen, but this was a big moment for everyone.

"It's pure joy," said Brown, a graduate student in his second season at Dayton after two seasons at Massachusetts. "I'm so happy for all these guys on the team, so happy that we all get to experience this together. We're so close as a family. It just means the world. We've worked so hard for this moment, and to just keep on playing soccer, which is what we all love to do, it's just something that I can't explain."

Dayton (8-6-6) will play No. 20 Louisville (11-5-3) at Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday at a time to be announced. The winner will play at West Virginia, the No. 5 overall seed in the tournament, on Sunday.

This will be Dayton's fifth NCAA tournament appearance and first since 2015. Louisville will make its 15th appearance and its third straight. It lost in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals and received an at-large bid.

"We don't have much familiarity with (Louisville)," Dayton coach Dennis Currier said, "but we did play them two years ago in the spring league. They're very good team. They're coached very well, and they've got a high-powered attack just like us and play good soccer just like us. So it's a great matchup. I know their venue is very nice. We're excited to be able to play them. I think it's a good regional matchup for us because it's obviously not too far."

Dayton won the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament Sunday as the No. 6 seed with a 2-1 victory against No. 1 seed Virginia Commonwealth on VCU's home field in Richmond, Va.

Dayton is 1-4 in four previous NCAA tournament appearances:

—In 1997, Dayton lost 3-1 to Rider in double overtime in a NCAA tournament play-in game.

—In 1998, in another play-in game appearance, Dayton lost 1-0 to Lafayette.

—In 2008, Dayton lost 3-1 on penalty kicks to Illinois-Chicago after neither team scored a goal in 90 minutes of regulation or two overtime periods. That was the program's first NCAA appearance under Currier.

—In 2015, in its last NCAA tournament appearance, Dayton beat Oakland in the first round on penalty kicks at Baujan Field before losing to Ohio State on penalty kicks in Columbus.

This tournament appearance is extra special because of what it took to earn. The Flyers built momentum for the postseason by not suffering a loss (four victories and four ties) in their last-eight regular-season matches. They then won three A-10 tournament road games at Loyola Chicago, Davidson and VCU after not winning a road game during the regular season.

In a speech to his players after the announcement Monday, Currier told them they would be connected forever because of this achievement.

"It's exciting," Currier said. "It's been quite the journey. The team's played in such good form, and anytime you go on the road and win three very difficult matches in hostile environments you just grow as a team. This team has so many new players. We lost a lot of players to graduation last year. To see them come into form in October and go through the adversity that they had to go through and beat that adversity and be here today and get to see our name on the Selection Show and drawing Louisville, it's just an exciting time for the guys. I'm very happy and super proud of them."