CALDWELL, Idaho – You can feel the electricity in this Boise exurb as the highest-ranked matchup of the entire tournament gets ready to start.
Both the College of Idaho and Dayton advanced to the semifinals last spring in Salt Lake City, with the Flyers advancing to the title game before falling to St. Thomas.
Last year was the debutante ball for the Yotes. Sure, the College of Idaho made it to the dance in 2018, but 2019 was the true coming out party for Matt Gier’s crew.
D-II Quarters: Dayton at College of Idaho | https://t.co/ctQPQExxak #virtualmcla20
— MCLA Tournament '21 (@MCLA_Tournament) April 18, 2020
This year’s team had plenty of senior leaders, but Dami Ashaye was the guy who led via his unselfishness.
In his first three seasons, the Eagle, Idaho, product was a two-way mid who was dangerous on both ends of the field. He amassed 25 goals and dished out nine assists while gobbling up 109 ground balls.
But this year brought something different.
“I asked him to move to d-mid for his senior year because he felt he would have a bigger impact on the defensive end,” said Gier. “He thrived as a d-mid and was a crucial piece of our defense only allowing 2.5 goals per game in 2020.”
For Dayton, Jack Marvel has been a rock-solid presence for four years.
A defensive middie by trade, Marvel has slowly expanded his offensive influence. Last season he posted a career-high 10 points (6g, 4a) while also serving as a lock-down shorty against the Flyers’ always-challenging schedule.
The efforts of the St. Louis native off the field were just as important.
“He is the current president of the program and is responsible for everything from budgets to travel plans,” said Dayton coach Joe Venturella. “He works tirelessly to make Dayton a premier program both on and off the field, and is the type of student-athlete any coach is lucky to have.”
This virtual matchup may prove to be just as interesting as the real showdown would undoubtedly have been.
No. 5 Dayton has streamrolled through Wake Forest and Montana State to make it into this situation. The Flyers have mobilized a formidable Twitter army that should make any opponent shiver.
For a relatively smaller school, No. 4 College of Idaho has held its own to this point. The Yotes pounded College of Charleston before comfortably adding UC San Diego to their list of victims.
This is legitimately a matchup we might have seen in the semifinals in Salt Lake City. It’s still a beauty in the virtual quarters.