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MSOC: Flyers Shut Down 1st Place VCU 1-0
MSOC: Flyers Shut Down 1st Place VCU 1-0
C.M. Rieman
Published by Chris R
10-27-2018
Smile MSOC: Flyers Shut Down 1st Place VCU 1-0

DAYTON (OH) -- The Dayton Flyers honored their senior class in style on a rainy Saturday night at Baujan Field, upsetting first place VCU 1-0 in a critical match heading into the final week of the A10 regular season. Jonas Fjeldberg's header proved to be the game-winner as UD remains alive in the hunt for an A10 Tournament bid. The Flyers improve to 7-5-4 (3-3-1) while VCU drops their first A10 match of the season and fall to 9-5-1 (5-1-1).

Both teams spent the first few minutes of the match settling into their own playing style to find a groove and establish a dominating posture on the rain-soaked grass at Baujan Field. The feeling-out process took a few minutes but eventually resulted in two distinct playing styles attempting to counter one another.

VCU played possession soccer by working the ball on the ground almost exclusively, piecing together nice one- and two-touch triangle passing throughout the central third. After the Rams approached the UD defensive third however, their efforts broke down when the field got more compact. Dayton's back line did a nice job of maintaining a good shape and limiting VCU's scoring chances to a minimum. The Flyers elected to give the Rams space to string passes together as long as it didn't push significantly downfield. Once the Flyer D won a 50/50 challenge, picked off a pass, or had a chance to collect and distribute, the Flyers chose to counter quickly and force the Rams to defend on their heels.

Dayton had several chances to score and generated more shots on offense. Most of those chances resulted from long balls in the box however -- some more wishful thinking than others. UD's best early chance came on a cross from the left side that found the far post, but the Flyer header by Jonas Fjeldberg from six yards out hit the VCU goalkeeper directly in the chest.

As the first half continued, the Rams stuck with methodical possession soccer and never seemed rushed or frustrated by their lack of scoring chances -- perhaps a reflection of their confidence as the 1st place team in the A10 standings. UD lacked ball pressure near the center circle to prevent the Rams from setting up their offense, spreading the field, and patiently connecting multiple passes together. That said, it never cost the Flyers defensively because UD always had numbers behind the ball.

Dayton was at its best when counter-attacking and putting the VCU defense in retreat, but quality scoring chances -- a problem all season -- was indeed a problem as the first half continued. The Flyers were leading in stats but had little to show for it as a result of placing too many shots off frame.

That changed in the 31st minute when a cross from the left side found Fjeldberg making a run at the near post. His one-time header beat Ram GK Mario Sequeira from 5yds out put the Flyers up 1-0.

The remaining 10 minutes of the 1st half played out much like the first 35 minutes. VCU kept the ball on the Baujan Field turf, poking and prodding for gaps in the Flyer defense to exploit open spaces as they moved forward. The Flyers once again elected to counter on quick resets when dispossessing in advantageous positions. Neither team cashed in to change the score as UD protected the 1-0 lead to intermission.

First half stats favored UD in shots 11-1, though shots on goal were just 3-0. Dayton also attempted the only three corner kicks.

Defensively, UD was in great shape coming out of halftime, limiting VCU's 1st half scoring chances to a bare minimum while allowing the Rams to knock the ball around until they encroached into the offensive third of the field. That same recipe in the 2nd half would likely result in the conference upset and keep a Flyer A10 Tourney bid opportunity within reach.

Dayton generated better momentum to start the final 45 minutes, generating several crosses in the box alongside a handful of corner kicks that put UD in a great position to add to their lead. Nothing found the back of the net however over the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half as UD clung to the 1-0 advantage.

Both teams traded free kicks from dangerous spots on the field but neither could capitalize in back-to-back sequences shortly thereafter. Over the final 10 minutes of regulation, the Rams created more pressure in the offensive third however and forced the Flyer defense to come up big with defensive tackles and clearances to keep a clean sheet and preserve the 1-0 lead. VCU kept knocking at the door, but GK Federico Barrios was solid in the air on high balls crossed in the box.

Dayton handled the late-game pressure extremely well -- especially in the final three minutes -- and kicked enough balls away near their own goal box to waste time and salt the match away.

UD outshot VCU 18-5 overall, including 6-0 on frame. Corner kicks were 8-5 also in favor of the Flyers. Limiting the top team in the A10 to 0 shots on goal over 90 minutes was perhaps UD's best defensive performance of the season and ended up being the storyline in the game. While the Rams had decent possession at times and looked extremely comfortable knocking the ball around, when the field shrunk so did their offense. VCU bogged down when space became tight, much in part due to UD's commitment to keep numbers behind the ball and defend with a tag-team effort.

The victory improves UD's league record to 3-3-1 with one match left to play (at Fordham on Wednesday night). Entering tonight's match in 9th place, they will be no worse than 9th heading into the last game but may need to beat the Rams in order to secure their position as one of the Top-8 seeds in the A10 postseason tournament hosted by Saint Louis.
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