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WSOC: Flyers Earn 2-1 OT Victory over LaSalle
WSOC: Flyers Earn 2-1 OT Victory over LaSalle
C.M. Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: Flyers Earn 2-1 OT Victory over LaSalle

DAYTON (OH) -- An overtime goal from perhaps the best buildup sequence of the season finished off A10 rival LaSalle with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory on Thursday night at Baujan Field. Desperate for a win to keep their A10 Tourney chances alive, UD capitalized and leapfrogged the Explorers in the A10 standings in the process. The Flyers improve to 7-6-2 (3-3-1), while LaSalle drops to 8-5-1 (3-4-0).

Much was at stake on Thursday night and not just an opportunity to knock off UD's biggest league rival over the past six or seven seasons. Sitting at 2-3-1 in the A10 heading into the match, another loss would put the Flyers two matches under .500 with just three games left to play -- two of them away from Baujan Field. A defeat to LaSalle would have placed Dayton in the precarious situation of being forced to practically run the table to finish the regular season with a Top-8 finish and qualify for the postseason tourney at Baujan Field.

With the stakes clearly defined, Dayton got out of the gate early after the opening whistle and generated some consistent pressure in the opposing half of the field -- something that's been incredibly hard to come by this year. A strong work ethic gave the Flyers some much-needed possession and that alone opened up some real estate on the flanks to send some balls to teammates running into space.

From a technical ability standpoint, UD continued to struggle with the same hangups that have plagued the team all season -- a lack of speed, little to no 1v1 dribble-drive ability, and the usual assortment of missed opportunities to switch balls weak-side or play one- and two-touch passes into dangerous spots. The Flyers overcame a lot of that however, much in part due to a very good work rate when challenging for loose balls, high balls in the air, or tracking back to close down LaSalle's angles in the UD defensive half.

UD generated a number of quality scoring chances as the first 20 minutes played out, mostly from crosses in the box from the run of play -- something the team has had a hard time generating beyond free kicks and corner kick opportunities. Once again however, no one was home inside the LaSalle goal box to stick a boot on incoming service and redirect shots on frame. Dayton spent much of the half creating quality buildup and putting dangerous balls in dangerous places, but the LaSalle goalkeeper had little to keep herself busy because of the Flyers' poor finishing ability.

LaSalle's best scoring chances came on capitalizing on Flyer mistakes. They picked off several errant passes and almost cashed in on a terrible Dayton giveaway in the midfield, necessitating a desperate tip-save over the crossbar by Kaelyn Johns to keep the match scoreless. In the first half alone, UD committed 21 unforced passing errors that resulted in dispossession.

That aside, UD still had the better of LaSalle over the first 45 minutes -- if not so much in the stats then in the overall run of play. Fans could sense the team had a goal or two in them -- provided they get hungrier in the box and start bull-rushing loose balls with greater urgency.

First half stats were 4-4 in shots but Dayton generated no shots on goal. Corner kicks favored the Explorers 5-3.

The start of the 2nd half would be especially important for the Flyers if they had high hopes of coming out with a victory. Looking to pick up where they left off before halftime, things took a decidedly unfavorable turn in the 49th minute when UD was whistled just inside their own goal box for a takedown away from any honest scoring threat. The soft whistle cost the Flyers a PK and LaSalle beat Johns' best efforts to take the 1-0 lead just minutes after intermission.

Playing from behind hasn't been a Flyer strength all season (at least over the last month of play), while playing with a lead has been few and far between. Something would have to change in the final 40 minutes of regulation and that would ultimately come down to UD's ability to finish chances inside the opposition's goal box.

As the 2nd half continued however, the Flyers lost some steam. At times they looked gassed as LaSalle slowly but methodically controlled just enough of the match to keep Dayton out of harm's way and in preservation of the 1-0 advantage. UD needed something good to happen and while the overall effort was commendable, the match was quickly swinging in a similar direction of too many other matches this year -- a day late and a dollar short on execution to flips defeats into victories.

To their credit, UD slowly found their legs in the last 25 minutes of regulation and began applying more pressure on the Explorer back line. Working the ball with combination play through the midfield and then feeding to the wings, the Flyers found space to go to work in an attempt to isolate attacking players 1v1. While those 1v1 matchups were once again rarely favorable outcomes, UD's repeated attempts forced LaSalle to continue defending and the longer a team defends the more likely they are to make a mistake.

That pressure finally paid off in the 76th minute when UD placed a low-driving corner kick to the near post. The ball squibbed into the mixer and was deflected into the net for an own-goal to tie the match at 1-1. Suddenly, Dayton believed they could not just salvage a tie but actually scratch out the win.

Over the final 15 minutes of regulation, Dayton dominated in most phases. Technical execution remained spotty as usual, but the Flyers overcame a lot of those shortcomings with old-fashioned grit and elbow grease, working harder than their opponent to dig out 50/50 balls and win the other hustle plays that controlled the momentum of the match.

UD knocked on the door several times late in regulation looking for the game-winner, but couldn't convert and extra time would be needed to decide the match.

Dayton dominated the extra period as well, working the touch lines for isolated attacking players waiting to create something in space. UD never could break down a LaSalle defender with foot skills, but the Flyers did manage to put a bunch of quality crosses inside the goal box that required important defensive clearaways. If nothing else, the volume of pressure was starting to wear the Explorers down.

Dayton threw the game-winning punch in the 98th minute on perhaps their best transition sequence of the entire season, building from the back, working through the midfield, and serving to the wings for eventual service inside the box. Micayla Livingston had an important touch at midifeld that put UD in a position to look weak-side. The ball then swung to the left and into open space along the touch line. Nadia Pestell flew out of the back on a long overlap and took the touch-line feed to the corner flag and turned baseline for two or three more touches as she encroached toward the Explorer box. Her cross to the near post rifled into the melee of players crashing the goal mouth, deflecting off an Explorer defender for the golden goal game-winner.

Second half stats proved just how dominant UD was over the 45 minutes, outshooting LaSalle 10-4 including 3-1 on corner kicks. After putting no shots on frame in the first half, the Flyers put all 10 on frame in the 2nd half and overtime, forcing Explorer goalkeeper Claudia Jenkins to make eight saves on the night (Johns had three for UD).

Right fullback Jordan Pauley had her best game of the season by far -- and maybe the best of her career. Routinely picking off passes, dispossessing, playing physical, and providing important service both laterally and moving forward, her level of play orchestrated a lot of what Dayton tried to do and ultimately succeeded in doing over the course of 98 minutes. Likewise, Pestell was a bulldog -- especially in the 1st half -- and once again had a major contribution to the Flyer attack including the game-winner. Beth Kamphaus and Tiana Bucknor also held their own in the defensive third to keep LaSalle off the scoreboard during the run of play.

Now sitting at 3-3-1 in the A10 with three matches to play (two on the road), UD more or less controls their own destiny and owns an important tie-breaker over LaSalle. Dayton can't afford to celebrate too long however as much work remains to be done and at least a win and a tie in the last three games are in all probability the bare minimum UD must do in order to punch their ticket to the A10 Tourney at Baujan Field in early November.

UD plays at GW on Sunday in another huge contest that may help decide their fate. While the Flyers are currently in 8th place and occupy the final spot for the A10 Tourney were pairings held tonight, GW sits in 7th place with a 4-3-0 record. Topping the Colonels would leapfrog UD ahead of them and create another favorable tie-breaker scenario should things come to it when deciding the bracket.

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

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