The Dayton Dutch Lions have fielded teams in top women’s amateur soccer leagues for seven consecutive years. That streak will be broken this year. The Dutch Lions have announced their women’s side will not participate in the Women’s Premier Soccer League or any other league in 2018. The club intends to return to the WPSL in 2019.
“We just felt the environment around the Women’s team for the last 18 months had fallen below our standards of wanting to provide an excellent experience for all involved. Thus, we are taking a year off to revamp and revitalize the entire process,” said Dutch Lions General Manager Ric Campbell.
The revitalization process will include three primary areas of focus. First, the Dutch Lions are looking to find a head coach and technical staff to be committed to the club and be in place for more than one season. Additionally, the club wants to rejuvenate it relationships with the community and restore the kind of support it once had. Finally, sponsors will be needed to offset some of the costs of housing players and traveling to away matches.
The Dutch Lions competed in the USL W-League from 2011 until the league folded in after the 2015 season. Dayton finished first in the Southeastern Conference in 2013, advancing to the playoffs for the only time during the club’s W-League membership. The Dutch Lions also earned W-League Organization of the Year in 2013.
When the team made the jump to the WPSL in 2016, the Dutch Lions took the league by storm. Dayton won the Valley Division in convincing fashion and reached the regional semi-final match before exiting the playoffs.
Burgeoning soccer phenom, Rose Lavelle, was a big part of the 2016 success. Lavelle, who also played for the Dutch Lions in 2014, has 2 goals in 7 appearances with the US Women’s National Team. The Boston Breakers selected Lavelle with the first overall pick in the 2017 NWSL draft. She was recently selected first overall by the Washington Spirit in a dispersal draft following the demise of the Breakers.
Lavelle may be the most recognizable name among Dutch Lions alumnae, but the most famous singular moment was an acrobatic play by Emilie Fillion. ESPN featured Fillion’s goal-scoring bicycle kick on SportsCenter Top 10 Plays. After leaving Dayton, Fillion went on to play professionally in the Eredivisie and Frauen-Bundesliga.
Fans of the women’s game will never know how many special moments will be missed in Dayton during the Dutch Lions’ yearlong hiatus. The club, though, is confident about a return to the WPSL in 2019.
“This is a positive move for us so that we can continue to meet our experience standard for all involved. Stand still for a moment to take several steps forward in the days ahead,” said Campbell.