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-   -   NEW ARTICLE: UDMSOC: Flyers Top Colonials 2-1 with Thrilling Finish (http://www.udpride.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33436)

Chris R 11-02-2019 11:09 PM

UDMSOC: Flyers Top Colonials 2-1 with Thrilling Finish
 
A scoreless first half led to an exciting final 45 minutes as UD took the lead, surrendered a late goal, then rebounded with the game-winner with just three minutes left in regulation to beat George Washington 2-1 on Saturday evening at Baujan Field. Elias Harryson and Kingsford Adjei scored on set pieces as UD finishes the regular season at 11-7-0 (6-2-0). The Colonials drop to 5-11-1 (3-5-0).

Winners of five straight matches after a three-game midseason pothole, UD came into Saturday's match in good form and all kinds of momentum. Conversely, George Washington was just fighting to keep alive any A10 Tournament hopes and arrived in town after suffering a 2-0 loss at VCU last weekend.

The first half was a productive one for the Flyers -- at least in terms of controlling the overall run of play. UD did well to win possession and connect the dots in the first 10 minutes of the game, moving the ball from side to side as they probed the GW defense for free space to exploit. Much of the action took place in the Colonial defensive half of the field as Dayton kept most of the possession on the ground while distributing passes to overlapping mids and defenders along the left and right touch lines. UD knocked several quality balls in the GW goal box as the first half continued, but Head Coach Dennis Currier's squad was a half-step off the pace to be at the right place at the right time to redirect a ball into the net. It wasn't for a lack of chances however, including a bevy of corner kick opportunities that were defended well by the boys from Foggy Bottom.

On the other end of the field, GW's best offense usually came on counter-attacking opportunities out of their own back end. Their best chances came by working the ball through the midfield then attempting to spring a forward being loosely marked by the Flyer back line. It required a perfect feed however and too often Dayton's back line was there to turn those opportunities away. When GW did finally reach the UD goal box, they failed to put much on frame. Goalkeeper Federico Barrios used his excellent foot skills to collect the long feeds and play it back out to his defenders for a complete reset.

While the Flyers were dominating the run of play, the score remained deadlocked at 0-0. To their credit, GW did a nice job of slowing down junior forward Jonas Fjeldberg for much of the half and limiting both his touches and good looks at the net.

Despite the eyeball test favoring Dayton, first half stats remained fairly even as the Flyers held a 6-5 advantage in shots and 2-0 lead in corner kicks.

The second half started off more competitively as the Colonials found more success digging balls out for possession and giving their offense a chance to do something productive in the offensive half of the field. The large contingent of GW fans in attendance showed their support too, providing some additional wind in GW's sails as the second half marched on.

While Dayton had to work harder to control play after halftime, they never lost the upper hand. At best, the play turned even for intermittent five-minute stretches of play, but UD weathered those storms and were defensively sound when GWU countered with numbers at midfield and had opportunities moving forward.

As the second half continued, the game felt like one goal would prove to be all that was needed -- either way -- to stick a fork in the opposition. Fjeldberg had a couple great strikes from long-range later in the second half that were ultimately saved, but they were nonetheless on frame and made the GW goalkeeper step up and make a couple plays. UD failed to generate additional scoring chances however as the speed of play began to suffer as the match continued. An over-abundance of needless touches, lack of triangle passing at times, and some spotty off-the-ball movement limited Dayton's options once balls were played forward into GW's defensive third. The Flyers took a lot of shots, but not enough were high quality and seemed to come at the tail end of a possession sequence when frustration set in and patience wore out. As the offense bogged down with lateral passing, the Colonials stepped up in the passing lanes to turn those chances away and keep the Flyers off the scoreboard.

It took a set piece in the 72nd minute to break the scoreless tie as Elias Harryson finished a corner kick at the near post with the redirect in the net to put UD up 1-0 and seemingly in command. From there, Dayton just needed to play smart soccer, avoid defensive gaffs, and finish things off with some old-fashioned keep-away to shut the door completely and pocket the shutout win.

It wasn't quite that easy.

GW used a set piece of their own in the 80th minute to place a long ball in the Flyer goal box that proved too much to handle. Barrios almost came up with the heroics after getting a paw on a GW redirect, but a second Colonial follow-up punched it in and gave GW the equalizer with 10 minutes to play.

The match appeared destined for extra time until GW fouled the Flyers about 22 yards from goal with just three minutes remaining. After setting up a sizable wall to defend the kick, Kingsford Adjei took the wall out of the equation altogether by slotting a low shot to the far right post to give UD the 2-1 lead and subsequent victory.

Second half stats illustrated the difference in scoring chances as UD out-shot GW 18-3 in the final 45 minutes -- including 6-0 from the flags. Too many opportunities were off target however which is why the second half was more competitive than the boxscore suggests. Overall shots on goal were 10-4 for the match.

The victory was UD's sixth in a row heading into the A10 Tournament next weekend. The win not only wrapped up a tourney spot but also a Top-4 finish which guarantees UD a first round home game against an opponent yet to be determined. After a rough start to the season, along with a mid-season slump, Dayton bounced back well and probably exceeded overall expectations this year all things considered. Fjeldberg is the likely A10 Offensive Player of the Year, while Toluwalese Oladeinbo is the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Others including Xavier Zengue, Federico Barrios, Kingsford Adjei, and one or two others might also hear their name called for postseason honors of some kind.

The Flyers are three matches away from the NCAA tournament, playing as well as anyone in the league, and have an honest chance to win it because of the balanced offense and defense. In most cases, the A10 tourney winner is the team that makes the fewest mistakes so UD's fortunes hinge on their ability to play clean soccer and avoiding the gaffs in a win-or-go-home tourney situation.


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