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WSOC: Flyers Top Fordham 3-0; Secure 22nd A10 Tourney Berth
WSOC: Flyers Top Fordham 3-0; Secure 22nd A10 Tourney Berth
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: Flyers Top Fordham 3-0; Secure 22nd A10 Tourney Berth

The Dayton Flyers women’s soccer team collected an important A10 victory on Thursday night, topping the Fordham Rams 3-0 at Baujan Field. Two first half goals by Jordan Pauley – a PK and a free kick – did most of the damage as UD improves to 7-7-3 (5-2-2), while Fordham falls to 4-10-4 (3-4-2).

The Flyers and Rams entered Thursday’s match with a lot at stake. A Dayton victory would put distance on Fordham in the race for a Top-8 seed in the A10 postseason conference tournament. A Fordham win however would leapfrog the Flyers in the standings and put Head Coach Eric Golz’ squad likely out of contention for a First Round home match opportunity.

Dayton’s fortunes got off to a great start – with the help of some friendly officiating -- just nine minutes into the match as Landy Mertz was taken down in the far corner of the box. It was a soft whistle as Mertz went down easily and was not in a scoring posture. Nevertheless, senior Jordan Pauley blasted home the PK to put Dayton up 1-0.

Landy Mertz and Jessica Sheldon pushed forward over the next few minutes to put additional pressure on the Fordham back line. Sheldon had several quality crosses in the box and UD earned a handful of corner kicks to place balls in the Ram goal box. Nothing materialized however as Fordham turned away the Flyer goal scoring opportunities without much trouble.

UD won a free kick from about 28yds in the 27th minute that Pauley took from center of the park. Her shot cleared the Fordham wall and beat the goalkeeper to put Dayton up 2-0 and in control of the scoreboard – if not the overall run of play.

Fordham had several quality chances to get on the scoreboard as well. The Flyers were sloppy defending near their goal box as touches and clearances were limp-footed and failed to relieve the pressure. Goalkeeper Emily Jones had one solid save and Dayton later surrendered an indirect kick in their own goal box – a rare occurrence – due to sloppy play and lack of communication. Fordham’s subsequent shot hit off the Flyer wall however and UD dodged a self-inflicted bullet. Minutes later, the Rams blasted a shot from 40yds out that almost found the upper 90 but sailed inches wide; it’s a good thing because it appeared Jones was beaten.

The remaining five minutes of the half were a hot mess as neither team could string enough quality passes together to move unimpeded up the field. After one or two decent connections, a slow or errant pass broke up the momentum and negated the quality build-up that was approaching.

Halftime stats favored Dayton in shots 8-6 including 4-1 on goal. With two goals on a PK and set piece however, the Flyers generated just two shots on frame in the run of play – far too few considering the talent and opportunities on the field in the first 45 minutes. UD struggled mightily with clean play in both goal boxes; defensively the touches and clearances away from danger were soft or lacked accuracy while ball pursuit inside Fordham’s box was apathetic. Too many dangerous balls were won by Ram defenders, oftentimes without Dayton head-hunting with physicality or pace to even get a boot on the play. The passive-aggressive nature of UD’s body language throughout the first half probably cost them another score or two.

Pauley’s goals however put UD in a great spot to start the second half and rekindle some spark and execution over the last 45 minutes. At times, UD’s toughest opponent was UD and while Fordham had trouble getting out of their own way too. Passes too often either missed their targets or were lacking so much pace they were easily picked off by the opposing defenses.

Dayton finally found paydirt in the run of play in the 74th minute when freshman Landy Mertz collected a squib on the right side of the goal box, cut left to lose her defender, and left-footed a shot to the near post that GK Kelly Lamorte got her hands on but couldn’t stop. Now up 3-0, the Flyers were all but guaranteed the result they were looking for.

The remaining 15 minutes were mostly uneventful. The UD coaching staff went to the bench and brought in some substitutions to finish things off. Fordham never really threatened to score to avoid the shutout loss as the Flyers tucked away the important late-season A10 victory and set themselves up for a major showdown in the final A10 game of the regular season this weekend.

Overalls shots were 18-11 in favor of UD while shots on goal were 8-3. Corner kicks were 5-1 as well.

It wasn’t necessarily a well-played, clean, and efficient game offensively or defensively by either squad, but the Flyers did just enough to earn the important victory. There were far too many unforced giveaways with passes directly to the opposition, weak touches in space that never traveled to their destination, and questionable pursuit of the ball offensively and defensively. There were moments when it seemed like UD was content with doing just enough to win without being motivated enough to play to potential. Part of that ongoing struggle is a result of massive youth and inexperience on the field; some of it too just a lack of awareness and drive at times. Fortunately, the Rams were a weak side and lacked playmakers capable of hurting most opponents, affording UD the cushion to win convincingly on the scoreboard despite a more competitive match being played on the field.

The Flyers hit the road on Sunday for the last game of the regular season against LaSalle. The Explorers and Flyers are battling it out for the fourth and final home seed to begin the A10 tournament. The Flyers can earn the home match with a tie, while LaSalle needs a victory to leapfrog. The matchup may be a precursor of things to come as both teams are likely to meet in the next match in the first game of the A10 tournament – with only seeding and venue at stake.

C. M. Rieman | Publisher | 937.361.4630 | Get the latest here:

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