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-   -   MSOC: UD Holds Off NIU 2-1 for First Win of 2019 (http://www.udpride.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33268)

Chris R 09-09-2019 11:09 PM

MSOC: UD Holds Off NIU 2-1 for First Win of 2019
The UD men's soccer team traded body blows with Northern Illinois on Monday evening, but the sweat equity paid off by securing the first victory of the 2019 season -- a 2-1 win with a goal in each half proving to be the difference. The Flyers improve to 1-3-1 (0-0-0) while the Huskies fall to 1-3-1 (0-0-0).

The rare 5:30p weekday kickoff brought Chamber of Commerce weather conditions as Baujan Field was baked in comfortable 80F sunshine and little to no breeze to adversely affect the match. Once the game got underway, both teams also got comfortable, spending the opening minutes testing the opposing side's strengths and weaknesses before settling in and shoving the pedal to the metal.

The action felt like a deliberate chess match for the first 30 minutes. Neither team generated an abundance of quality scoring chances -- nevermind sufficient build-up to end those opportunities with a crescendo. Once again, the Flyers chose to attack on the flanks but did so this time without the service of Rok Taneski who was not available.

Jonas Fjeldberg picked up much of that slack and was UD's primary target up top, but Northern Illinois did a solid job of taking away Dayton's execution in the defensive third of the field. For a while in fact, the run of play felt much like Friday's 1-0 loss to Ohio State -- lots of hustle but not much headway.

The first half continued as a slow burn, but fan patience paid off in the last 15 minutes of play as the field opened up and players suddenly found themselves with room to do something dangerous. UD and NIU traded opportunities inside their respective goal boxes, but clean looks were few and far between. While both goalkeepers became more active in front of their net, neither went full Superman to make a diving save to keep the match deadlocked at 0-0.

The scoreless match wouldn't last much longer however. The Flyers capitalized first with one of their best chances of the half when Toluwalase Oladeinbo countered with only a defender to shake. He cut left, created space, and chipped a ball to the far post that beat Husky GK Konrad Dziedzic to put UD up 1-0 in the 34th minute. It was Dayton's first lead of the season but unfortunately the cushion wouldn't last long.

NIU countered just three minutes later with a tally of their own to erase the deficit as fast as it materialized. The countering goal reset the match and once again the two teams battled intensely over the last 10 minutes of play in what was quickly changing from a snooze-fest into a highly-entertaining soccer match. Neither team found the net again however and halftime ended deadlocked at 1-1.

Halftime stats were relatively even with UD holding a slight edge in shots (6-4) and corner kicks (4-2).

The second half started where the first half ended. Dayton and NIU traded more punches and soon the match turned into a battle of evenly-matched teams unlikely to handle much more than either side could throw at the other. Both sides were organized defensively, yet at times challenged in the midfield and up top to create dynamic scoring chances or clean shot opportunities in the offensive third.

Set pieces and corner kicks were prime scoring chances for both teams but service into the box wasn't always where it needed to be. Defenders or goalkeepers often swept up the loose change and turned defensive bunkers into quick counter-attacks going the other way. Those counters were often the result of long balls over the top. Both teams had less success working the ball through the central third and splitting defenders with a through-ball to wide-attacking players making diagonal runs inward. Credit to both back lines for staying organized and taking options away.

Defender Cole Watkins was especially important for the Flyers. He did a nice job of controlling play in his work zone and commanding attention from his teammates to hold shape and maintain defensive marks inside the UD goal box.

It was a counter-attack that ultimately provided the game-winning goal for Dayton, but it was helped in part by a solid pick-off near midfield to make the counter-attack even possible. Pushing down the left flank, Dayton fed an overlapping ball from a rearward Flyer racing toward the baseline. NIU did not track the overlap well, allowing UD to cross from the baseline to Fjeldberg camping in front of the goal box waiting for service. His collection and finish to the lower post put the Flyers up 2-1 in the 75th minute and would be everything required to earn UD their first victory of the 2019 season.

The last 15 minutes of the match necessitated a bit of housekeeping however to preserve the lead and eventual win. The Flyers did just enough to keep NIU off balance when the Huskies pushed forward with numbers trying to generate the equalizer. Several balls in the box forced timely Dayton clearances that forced NIU to reset beyond midfield and start their attack all over again. In some cases, UD found just enough friendly feet to play additional balls forward to either salt away the clock or go for the jugular with a second back-breaking goal. There were a couple half-chances and semi-close calls on both sides but the match ended 2-1.

Overall, UD was outshot 8-3 in the second half including 2-1 in corner kicks, but Head Coach Dennis Currier's team made the most of their few opportunities by capitalizing when it mattered to earn the much-needed result. It was a highly-competitive match against two teams that could have easily traded jerseys and found themselves staring at their doppelganger. Both teams battled feverishly over the last 60 minutes after a slow start to the match, although at times the execution left a lot to be desired which was not unexpected considering the respective states of both programs -- works in progress.

Winning is contagious however and the first win of the season can do a lot to a team's confidence moving forward. The Flyers travel to Central Arkansas for a Friday evening match against the Bears. Kickoff is a late start -- 9p EDT.

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