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WSOC: Flyers Outlast Hawks 1-0
WSOC: Flyers Outlast Hawks 1-0
C.M. Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: Flyers Outlast Hawks 1-0

DAYTON (OH) -- The Dayton Flyers found the back of the net late in the 1st half and held off a furious SJU onslaught in the last 45 minutes to secure the important 1-0 victory over St. Joseph's (PA) on Sunday afternoon at Baujan Field. Quincy Kellett found side netting on a Jordan Pauley cross to score the game-winner as UD improves to 5-5-2 (1-2-1). The Hawks fall to 7-4-2 (2-2-0).

After Thursday's 4-0 beatdown at the hands of VCU, Dayton had a lot to think about over the weekend as they prepared for the Hawks. Sitting at 0-2-1 in the A10 standings, falling much further behind might end Dayton's realistic chances of qualifying for the A10 Tourney before October even arrived. By hook or by crook, the Flyers needed a win on Sunday.

The opening minutes of the match were ping-ponged between the UD and SJU defensive thirds as both sides tried to find some space to work balls down the flanks for resulting crosses in the box. Neither side dominated possession and the match was fairly competitive as the first 15 minutes continued to play out. UD's organization and technical detail on offense continued to bog down near the goal box however, unable to make purposeful passes that might lead to dangerous chances near the SJU net. Conversely, the Hawks countered with a bit more presence in the midfield. Able to maneuver in tight spaces when needed, the Hawks did just enough to force the Flyer defense to chase numerous balls and keep GK Kaelyn Johns busy.

While the Hawks were winning the stat sheet however, the match remained scoreless. With UD's offense hitting the skids over the last three weeks, it might take a fluky goal or Hawk defensive miscue to put Dayton on the scoreboard and give Head Coach Eric Golz' squad a chance to secure the home victory. Turns out neither scenario was necessary as UD manufactured a well-executed play in the 38th minute to take the 1-0 advantage. Jordan Pauley sent a long cross to the far left side of the goal box near the six yard line. From there, Quincy Kellett did the rest and redirected the ball off her thigh to the side netting of the opposite post -- a ball that looped over the Hawk goalkeeper and tucked inside. Up 1-0 with just minutes before halftime, Dayton suddenly had momentum. They would protect the lead into intermission.

First half stats favored SJU in shots 8-3 and corner kicks 2-1.

St. Joseph's raised their level of play over the last 45 minutes and would eventually settle in and dominate much of the possession and run of play, forcing the Flyers to defend for long stretches in their own half of the field. Working the touch lines and cutting inside at the corners of the goal box, the Hawks were able to find space and dribble-drive just outside the Flyer box for quality scoring chances. UD's back line did well to turn those chances away however -- mostly on deflections and last-second tackles. When that didn't work, Johns was where she needed to be inside her box and made several saves on SJU long distance shots that were directly at her mitts.

The Flyers never generated much of an offensive push as the 2nd half continued. Unable to link passes together and play to feet, UD kept sending clearances and long balls forward with little to show for it. Either the balls were way off target and easy pickins' for the SJU back line, or UD simply lacked the breakaway speed to chase something down and create a half-chance or two.

SJU dominated the last 25 minutes of the match and put UD into a defensive bunker for significant stretches. Consistent Hawk pressure continued to force the Flyers to make critical tackles as shots were being tee'd up. SJU almost tied the match on a quality redirect to the far post, but Johns dived to her left and put a mitt on the ball to knock it just wide of the post and keep UD in the lead. Moments later another redirect bounced off the crossbar and came straight down near the goal line, necessitating another Johns knock-away with some help from her field players.

The UD defense continued to bend under the relentless pressure, but never completely broke down. With no ball possession to speak of from the mids and forwards to take pressure of the fullbacks, it was largely up to the Flyer defense to protect the lead and somehow hold on until the end. Despite the number of shots SJU generated (24) and Johns' nine saves on the day, SJU never found the back of the net.

Overall, SJU outshot UD 24-8 with a decisive 16-5 advantage in the 2nd half alone. Shots on goal also favored the Hawks (9-3) as well as corner kicks (6-3). The boxscore says the Hawks dominated the run of play and for long stretches they were indeed the better squad. But this was not the same Hawks team that finished 18-1-1 two seasons ago before the 7-0 beatdown by the Flyers in the A10 Championship. Both squads are far from that level of play and in rebuilding mode. While Dayton's level of play on Sunday afternoon was sketchy at best in terms of technical ability and purpose, they did find a way manufacture a victory in spite of it. If nothing else, that's progress. The Flyer offense must get markedly better however in the last month of the season; right now they are generating few quality scoring chances and cannot maintain possession of the ball for more than two or three touches.

If UD can focus on the basics moving forward, there are a few Ws left on the schedule. But nothing will come easy for this team and they may need a few lucky bounces along the way to secure their spot in the A10 Tournament (Top-8 seeds qualify). Talent-wise, UD will remain at a disadvantage on most nights but some of that can be overcome with effort and grit. That's more or less how Sunday afternoon's victory ultimately materialized. For now, it's the winning formula worth pursuing.

Dayton finishes the three-game homestand with a Thursday match against Saint Louis. Kickoff is 7pm.

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

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