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WSOC: UD Fumbles Away 0-0 2OT Draw to Hapless URI
WSOC: UD Fumbles Away 0-0 2OT Draw to Hapless URI
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
09-27-2019
Exclamation WSOC: UD Fumbles Away 0-0 2OT Draw to Hapless URI

The Dayton Flyers wasted numerous opportunities over 110 minutes of play on Thursday night, absorbing a 0-0 2OT draw to talent-deficient Rhode Island at Baujan Field. Winless last season and on a three-game losing streak heading into the match, the Rams out-worked and out-muscled Dayton when it counted to punch well above their weight class and make the Flyers look disinterested for most of the game. UD now stands at 3-5-2 (1-0-1) while URI leaves town at 3-4-3 (0-1-1).

If there was ever a compelling indication of posture on Thursday night, it came in the first five minutes of the match when the Flyers had a 1v1 breakaway opportunity from 40yds out. UD should have walked it on for a goal -- or at the very least put a shot on frame -- but URI recovered in time to deny Dayton a threatening touch altogether. Too slow, too passive, and too apathetic despite having more speed and talent where it counted, if not college experience. The "there will always be another ball" posture carried over for the rest of the half and in reality the rest of the entire match as Dayton never shifted out of second gear all evening.

No doubt about it, UD had the talent advantage, more speed up top, and URI's defensive game plan played directly into Dayton's strength -- a flat Ram back line that played high and dared UD to send a well-weighted through-ball between their defenders or over the top. The Ram staff must have been watching videotape however and were perhaps smarter than everyone else in the stadium because the tactics largely worked. Mired with too-heavy or too-soft front-line service for most of the year, Dayton once again couldn't place a properly-weighted ball to a Flyer forwards on occasions when the Rhody back line was in position to be shredded time and again with smart soccer. The Rams were asking for it from kickoff to final whistle but UD never made them pay the price.

The first half didn't lack extended possession by the Flyers and in large chunks UD controlled the ball when necessary. But very little came from it. Eventually a poor pass or soft 50/50 challenge resulted in lost possession -- self-inflicted wounds from working at about 50% pace when a complete effort was required.

The Flyers found some chances up top, but couldn't put anything on frame. Free kicks were largely exercises in futility, oftentimes never clearing the first wave of defenders and posing no threat at all. Movement off the ball was inept at best, while hard physical challenges were also few and far between -- especially inside the goal boxes when the game turns from soccer to rugby and toughness wins out.

Dayton mucked around for far too long and URI had countering opportunities that threatened to put UD down a goal in the first 45 minutes. First half shots favored URI 7-3 while corner kicks were 2-2. Those stats were almost unfathomable considering the athleticism and talent advantage on the field -- even if the Flyers were young and inexperienced at several positions. Lack of execution is more-easily excusable than lack of passion and effort.

The second half played out similar to the first half; there was no major reset at halftime and fans saw the same team for far too many extended stretches. Once again, the Rams did just enough to keep Dayton off their step, fouling many times to slow play and force Dayton to re-start without a numbers advantage. As play continued, UD started challenging for loose balls with half-hearted leg reaches rather than low, hard tackles to shove the ball forward. Too often, UD was a half-step slow all over the field and the lack of solid positioning rarely put Rhode Island in positions of defensive terror. Up top, there was little to no high-ball pressure from the strikers to force a suspect URI back line and goalkeeper into mistakes (the making your own luck approach). Defensively, the Flyers had just enough giveaways and loose marking to look vulnerable as the second half continued.

Mid-way through the last 45 minutes of regulation, URI started to assert control. Dayton bunkered and had trouble clearing balls out and away; too often the clearances were down the middle of the field or to an opposing player.

There were few bright spots as play continued, but freshman left striker Jessica Sheldon came off the bench and once again gave the Flyers a shot in the arm in terms of blue-collar work rate. Her speed and strong left foot created several great chances along the touch line and baseline -- including two or three feeds inside the URI goal box that were as good as goals with a clinical finish. Unfortunately, finishing was atrocious for most of the night as most chances were either off target or turned away completely.

Yaiza Navarro Leon was the lone player between the goal boxes that routinely found the feet of other players. While her teammates sprayed balls around the pitch, trapped balls out of bounds, or lost possession to more physical URI players, the Spaniard -- despite her size -- battled fiercely for long stretches and dug out difficult challenges or drew fouls as a result of the commendable elbow grease. She also played with her head up, one of the few out there seeing the field.

It wasn't enough however as Sheldon and Navarro Leon had little help. Service out of the back line was inept all night and never recognized the massive speed advantage Dayton enjoyed at forward. They rarely sent quality balls over the URI back line -- who were pinching far too forward to defend a decent service 50 yards out from goal. In other moments, players with acres of space to dribble forward ended up passing to teammates despite having no defenders within 10-15 yards of them. The inability to recognize open space, defensive positioning, and when to pass or continue carrying forward plagued the attack all night.

The Rams almost made it 1-0 on a counterattack late in the second half, but the shot went just wide of the left post to keep the Flyers' hopes alive to gut out an ugly 1-0 win. UD came very close in the waning minutes and overtimes -- forcing a goal-line save on one occasion and hitting the left post on another -- but the wasted opportunities were the storyline of the game. Despite having the talent to defeat Rhode Island 4-0, the Flyers should feel lucky they didn't cough up a soft goal and lose 1-0 -- because that's just the kind of result they were begging for all evening. Rhode Island had a bit of luck on their side -- but they manufactured most of it with their consistent work ethic. Dayton never generated the same mojo.

Overall stats favored UD in shots 16-12, but shots on goal were just 3-1 -- that's four shots on frame out of 28 overall attempts -- an almost unthinkable stat line that summarized the match start to finish.

Dayton lacked execution as trapping, passing, off-the-ball movement, and shot accuracy were sub-par, but those shortcomings can always be excused on a given night as players' touches come and go with "one of those nights". Passion and effort should be constants however and never wane, allowing Dayton to overcome those execution issues and still beat a moribund program like URI rather comfortably. Neither happened and that's most disappointing. Head Coach Eric Golz and his staff play a lot of first-year players and inexperience can often be difficult to micro-manage -- after all they are forced to learn on the job and that means allowing for mistakes But apathy and indifference were spread evenly across the under- and upperclassmen. The Rams were so mediocre that overcoming even modest adversity should have been doable. On Thursday night however, Dayton lacked urgency and heart and that's what ultimately cost them a W.

The Flyers can atone for their mid-week vacation with a more passionate effort at A10 favorite Saint Louis on Sunday. The chances for a victory are slim and none, but right now it's less about the score and more about the willingness -- or unwillingness -- to give a great effort (and second effort) on every play. That alone would render the URI result a mere speedbump in the learning curve. More of the same however and there isn't a game left on the schedule the Flyers can't lose. Effort wins and loses matches. On Thursday, UD felt the wrath of that reality.
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C. M. Rieman | Publisher | 937.361.4630 | Get the latest here:

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