How the 2022 WPSL Expansion Side Grew Throughout the Summer Campaign and Earns One More Match Postseason for a Shot at the Ohio Valley COnference Title
Published Jun 28, 2022
Written By:  Thomas Costello
Central Region Contributor

Photo Cred:  Joe Craven

Entering the final stretch of the 2022 WPSL regular season, FC Dayton took on the Dayton Dutch Lions with a chance of locking up the second spot in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship. FC Dayton didn’t only win but won big in a 5-1 Sunday afternoon victory over its in-town rivals. Dayton’s win was its third in a row in a stretch of matches where it outscored opponents 11-2.

Now, on July 9, Dayton travels to Cleveland, Ohio to face Ambassadors Cleveland for the conference title and spot in the Regional Playoffs. However, two weeks ago it wasn’t a guarantee that one of the newest WPSL teams would reach the conference championship in its first season.

On June 12, FC Dayton ran into its first speed bump of its inaugural season. After starting the season with three straight victories and sitting at the top of the Ohio Valley Conference’s Western Division, FC Dayton played Lady Victory FC, losing 1-0.


“The loss to Lady Victory was definitely a learning lesson for the group,” Bradley Schluter, FC Dayton head coach, said. “It was our first away trip in which we had to travel a greater distance and we simply just didn't perform on the day. Had a slow first half and had to chase the game. Think a bit of complacency set in, so the loss was a nice wake-up call for the group.”


Dayton answered the call. Within seven days of that defeat, FC Dayton had a chance to redeem itself with another trip to Indiana, this time against FC Pride, and a chance to avenge its sole loss of the season at home against Lady Victory FC. That redemption came in a 2-0 FC Pride victory and a resounding 4-1 win over Lady Victory – the 2021 Midwestern Conference champions.

Coach Schluter’s side isn’t done yet when it comes to regular-season competition. FC Dayton faces a tough end-of-season test to prepare for its trip to Cleveland, with a final regular-season road match against Cincinnati. Like Dayton, Cincinnati suffered a 1-0 loss to Lady Victory FC but responded by winning 4-1 in its second matchup as well.

Cincinnati had a claim to the conference title in 2022, after consistently competing near the top of their divisions since joining the WPSL five seasons ago. Each team must adjust with Saturday’s match falling on a busy Fourth of July holiday – likely meaning some players will be out. Even so, Schluter knows Cincinnati and Dayton will be ready.


“Brigit [Reder] is an incredible coach, and they [Cincinnati] have some really talented, experienced players in their group,” Schluter said. “Several of the ladies amongst the two teams have grown up playing with and against each other - both at the youth and collegiate level. The intensity and speed of our first match, I didn't want it to end. The rematch to conclude the season is going to be a fun one to watch.”


Regardless of Saturday’s outcome though, FC Dayton’s season will continue on July 9, in Cleveland. A chance to lift the Ohio Valley Conference trophy is icing on the cake to a first WPSL season filled with growth and achievement. A season already worthy of celebrating when Dayton celebrated its Western Division title after Sunday’s victory.


“What has been most enjoyable about this summer is that it has truly been about the team. We have had 35 different players play for us across the summer with our youngest being 16 and our oldest being 21,” Schluter said. “This was our first year in the league - the buy-in and work the players have put in has been remarkable. I love this group and was thrilled to celebrate with them yesterday!”