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MSOC: UD Tops NKU 3-0 for Third Shutout in a Row
MSOC: UD Tops NKU 3-0 for Third Shutout in a Row
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
09-24-2019
Smile MSOC: UD Tops NKU 3-0 for Third Shutout in a Row

The Dayton Flyers men's soccer team hosted Northern Kentucky on Tuesday night as Head Coach Dennis Currier's squad was fresh off a 2-0 upset road victory over nationally-ranked West Virginia. Looking to continue the hot play, UD answered the challenge with an early first half goal and added two more tallies after intermission for the convincing 3-0 victory. The third win in a row and third consecutive shutout improves UD to .500 on the season at 4-4-0 (0-0-0) -- a strong rebound after beginning the year with three straight losses. The Norse fall to 1-5-1 (0-2-0).

Fans in attendance were anxious to see more of the same solid play and execution that's been a part of UD's resurgence over the last 10 days, namely strong possession on the ground, movement off the ball, and dangerous overlaps along the touch lines that have opened up space and opportunity in the once-sputtering offense. If it's working, don't tinker with success.

Good news: Dayton didn't.

After the standard, cautious, feeling-out period to begin the match by both teams, Dayton asserted itself on offense with quality ball movement in the interior and eventually out to the touch lines. Most of the possession was once again kept on the ground where UD has been most efficient and effective at generating momentum pushing forward. Once again, the back line provided additional punch in the offensive half of the field with timely overlaps along the wings to stretch NKU's back line and force them to defend out of position near the corner flags.

The Flyers' first goal was a direct result of that style of play as freshman defender Xavier Zengue left his defensive position for an overlap past the mids hoping for some service. He got it, and after pushing forward into space, booted a quality cross to the perfect spot for Jonas Fjelderg to finish for the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute. Any closer to the goal and the Norse goalkeeper would have snatched the cross out of the air; any further away from goal and Fjeldberg would not have had a play on the ball. The well-placed service beat the goalkeeper's outstretched hands as Fjeldberg finished things off.

The early goal put UD in the driver's seat and over the next 20 minutes Dayton played excellent soccer. A commendable work ethic from all three areas of the pitch -- back line, mids, and forwards -- afforded UD some great sequences where scoring opportunities eventually materialized. Fjeldberg almost made it 2-0 on a perfectly-weighted through-ball down the middle of the field, but the Norwegian's shot was denied with a quality save by Norse GK Daniel Bermingham to keep the score 1-0.

Additional opportunities opened up however. The Flyers hit the left post on a bazooka from long distance that had Bermingham completely beaten, then another long-distance shot just missed wide of the post shortly thereafter. NKU felt the pressure and had a difficult time countering on the other end. UD pinned the Norse into a defensive bunker for extended periods as they peppered the goal box with crosses and shots on goal. Only some bad Flyer luck kept the lead from increasing.

The Norse slowly regrouped however and by the 35th minute were holding better shape and manufacturing more possession within the central third of the field. While they struggled with buildup at times, they countered well in transition and by the latter stages of the first half were the team threatening to score. Flyer GK Federico Barrios was forced into superhero mode on a couple dangerous sequences with timely saves from point-blank range as UD had trouble clearing the ball out of their own goal box. Dayton appeared to tire just a bit and were they to withstand the barrage of pressure indefinitely, the Norse were eventually going to net an equalizer. Fortunately, the back line of Zengue, Cole Watkins, and Dennis Ntsin were stubborn. They protected the 1-0 Flyer advantage and the halftime whistle came at the perfect time.

First half stats favored UD in shots 11-2 while corner kicks favored NKU 4-2.

As the second half began, the next goal would prove an important one as Dayton felt like they deserved more than a one-goal lead at the restart. NKU upped their game once again and part of that came from a better work ethic in the midfield to gain possession of 50/50 challenges they lost to the Flyers in the first 45 minutes. The Norse also cut down on loose giveaways, allowing their attacking players to stretch the field for better service where it mattered (the offensive third). Through the 60th minute, NKU had some quality chances to tie the match and make things interesting -- a circumstance that would have been a real killjoy considering how well UD played prior to halftime.

Fortunately, Dayton withstood NKU's overall improvement and got the next goal of the match in the 68th minute after a bit of controversy forced the officials to confirm things. Wariebi Jituboh got loose baseline directly in front of the left post and appeared ready to walk the ball in on goal. His service found Jake Degler directly in front of the net and he cleaned it up from 4yds out to make the score 2-0. The Norse felt a UD player was offside on the play and the goal should be wiped out, while at least one official appeared to indicate a potential defensive deflection negated the offside position. After a short conversation the goal withstood scrutiny and UD was in the driver's seat.

The Flyers added an insurance goal in the 71st minute when Daniel Dos Santos finished off a PK resulting from a Flyer taken down near the baseline. It was a suspect whistle as UD was not in a prime scoring position and both attacking player and defender were challenging a 50/50 ball neither clearly took ownership of. Nevertheless, the PK made it 3-0 and the match was essentially on ice from that point on.

NKU never quit and continued to probe the Flyer defense for space to create and score, but they never managed to solve the riddle. Dennis Ntsin was particularly strong at left fullback, never allowing his mark to beat him 1v1 or leverage the spacing on the field to serve others a better ball elsewhere. Meanwhile, Zengue continues to show promise on his overlaps in the Flyer attack while Cole Watkins ran the show from a central defensive position and stacks up nicely in front of Barrios as a vocal leader where it's needed most.

UD had a couple additional chances to score later in the match, but eventually eased off the gas a bit and used the bench to pull some starters including Fjeldberg and others. Fjeldberg was creative and dynamic all night, utilizing flicks, heel passes, and other trickery that caused fits for the NKU defenders looking to keep him under wraps. He's starting to emerge as a consistent game-changer.

Match stats favored UD in shots 19-9 and shots on goal 7-2. NKU had a slight edge in corner kicks (5-3) while fouls were 14 a piece.

There's no secret why Dayton was successful for the third match in a row: they stuck to what's been working. As long as they continue to exploit their strengths, minimize weaknesses, and avoid the obvious gaff that can change an outcome, there's no reason to believe the momentum can't continue indefinitely. That includes A10 play which starts on Saturday night against UMass at Baujan Field. Kickoff is 7pm.
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