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WSOC: Flyers Dominate Kent State Despite 1-0 Score
WSOC: Flyers Dominate Kent State Despite 1-0 Score
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: Flyers Dominate Kent State Despite 1-0 Score

Despite dominating the match from start to finish, it took a free kick in the 64th minute to propel the Dayton Flyers women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Kent State on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon at Baujan Field. Defender Natalie Hegg went far-post from outside the goal box to give Dayton its third victory in a row to improve their record to 3-0-1. The Golden Flashes remain winless at 0-2-1.

A beautiful but hot day made for challenging playing conditions, necessitating routine hydration stoppages throughout the match to keep players in good health. As the game got underway however, the Flyer health was never questioned as they controlled the opening minutes with sustained possession in all parts of the field. UD found success knocking the ball around and connecting passes through the midfield to keep KSU on their heels and in a defensive retreat for large stretches. The pressure led to some excellent scoring chances over the first 10 minutes of play.

Kent State's best counter to UD's ball-control offense was just that -- attempting to catch the Flyers napping with quick counter-attacks via long-ball service. On a couple occasions there were small cracks, but the Flyer back line did a nice job of cleaning up all the loose change. Maddie Crosbie got the start in goal and didn't have much to do.

Dayton's domination proved beneficial in the offensive third as the Flyers found room inside the KSU goal box to generate dangerous scoring chances. Some came via shots while others were scrums inside the six yard line. Additionally, UD racked up numerous corner kicks by attacking the flags and forcing the KSU defenders to deflect intended crosses into the goal box. Jess Sheldon earned six or seven corner kicks alone from blocked service that dribbled over the baseline. Despite the opportunities however, UD couldn't find the back of the net.

That was the storyline over the remaining 30 minutes of the first half as well. Alicia Donley used her height advantage on free-kick service and almost put the Flyers on top with a header, but a good save by the KSU goalkeeper kept the match scoreless. Itala Gemelli was bottled up for large stretches and couldn't get clean looks at the net like she normally does, but the consistent Dayton pressure continued to pay dividends on the stat sheet. Laney Huber generated several shots, but took a ball to the face and missed some first half action. By halftime, the match remained 0-0 in spite of UD's best efforts to blow the game open.

The Flyers owned a 13-1 advantage in shots and whopping 9-0 lead in corner kicks. It could have -- and probably should have -- been a 3-0 game.

The second half commenced with work to do however. In the first 15 minutes after the restart, it was much the same story as the first half -- UD filling the boxscore with gaudy statistics yet unable to punch a ball past the Kent State goalkeeper to take control of things. The longer the match continued at 0-0, the more likely KSU was to start believing they could find a cheap goal late in the game to steal a result on the road with ski masks and gloves. That's a fate Dayton has suffered in the recent past too. The Flyers needed to score soon.

The most unlikely hero of the day answered the call in the 64th minute. Defender Natalie Hegg took a free kick from about 30 yards -- well past the goal box and closer to the sideline. The far-post service sailed over the scrum in front of the goal -- including KSU goalkeeper Sarah Melen attempting to land a punch-out with a jump at the six yard line. No luck for her or her defense as Hegg's ball tucked in at the far post for the unassisted goal to give Dayton a 1-0 lead.

Hegg's tally certainly took some pressure away, but the work was still unfinished and KSU was just a Flyer mistake away from tying things up. With no overtime in regular season matches anymore, late mistakes no longer get do-overs in extra time to erase costly mistakes in regulation.

Thankfully, UD's back line remained compact and sharp over the last 25 minutes and rarely gave KSU room to put dangerous opportunities inside the Flyer goal box. Batoul Reda took over goalkeeping duties in the second half and ultimately registered the only save of the match.

Offensively, Dayton continued to press KSU's defense and had numerous chances to blow the scoreboard's light bulbs out. The finishing wasn't there however in spite of total domination everywhere else. UD eventually secured the 1-0 home win but the final score could have easily been 4-0 or 5-0 if just a few other chances were cleaned up and put away.

Sheldon blew up the GPS with her repeated sprints down the touch lines for service into the box -- oftentimes blocked service that earned corner kicks. The entire back line was solid all afternoon and bad touches were few and far between. Both Crosbie and Reda had little to do and credit to that goes to Donley, Hegg, and Mackenzie Lutz. The trio earned UD its third shutout in four matches thus far -- a good trend.

Match stats underscored the one-sidedness. UD finished with a stupefying 17-0 advantage in corner kicks, while shots were almost as impressive at 27-4. Shots on goal were 14-1. The Flyers have had trouble finishing scoring opportunities over the last couple seasons so Sunday's storyline was not all that out of character. Against the Kent State's and Wright States of the world, teams can sometimes get away with it. Ohio State comes to Baujan Field on Thursday evening however for an in-state showdown. UD might get 4-5 good looks inside the Buckeye goal box all game and must put away those opportunities if they want to stretch the winning streak to four matches.

Hot shooting hides a multitude of sins.
Make everyone else's "one day" your "day one".
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