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UDWSOC: UD Erases 2-0 Deficit for 3-2 Win Over Davidson
UDWSOC: UD Erases 2-0 Deficit for 3-2 Win Over Davidson
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
10-06-2019
Smile UDWSOC: UD Erases 2-0 Deficit for 3-2 Win Over Davidson

Senior Day started off like a train wreck but finished smelling like roses as the Dayton Flyers erased a 2-0 halftime deficit with three goals in the 2nd half to complete the improbable 3-2 victory over the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday afternoon at Baujan Field. All three goals were scored or assisted on by the freshmen class as UD improves to 5-6-2 (3-1-1) while Davidson falls to 8-4-2 (3-1-1).

Overcast skies and cooler temperatures made for excellent conditions, though some light rain would eventually arrive later in the 1st half to make things a bit tricky. With pre-match Senior Day festivities over and kickoff underway however, Baujan Field remained dry for the timebeing as both sides looked to take command early on.

The Flyers got off to a great start, winning loose balls in the central third of the field and pushing forward along the touch lines to Caroline Mink, Laney Huber, Landy Mertz, and Alex Goins racing toward the flags. Ball possession was very good in the opening minutes as UD found the feet of teammates and pieced together extended periods of sustained possession. Working the ball out of the back, the back line used Yaiza Navarro Leon as the main conduit out of the defensive third. She distributed to others upfield and from there Dayton had excellent chances to push forward into open space and exploit the Davidson defensive half of the field.

The soccer made for enjoyable spectating as both teams battled back and forth with tough-minded efforts. The competitive match continued to favor Dayton, but Davidson had their own weapons too and were dangerous when counter-attacking -- some of those transition periods caused the Flyers to defend in retreat and that allowed the Wildcats to exploit the gaps and challenge into the Flyer goal box. Davidson had some speed and athleticism up top that kept the Flyer back line on their toes. For the time-being however, the Flyer defense held tough and turned those Wildcat chances away.

Offensively, Dayton kept the gas pedal down and continued to create scoring chances on the other end. Numerous balls in the box -- either from direct feeds, long balls, or set-piece free kicks -- kept the Davidson back line and goalkeeper busy throughout the first half. At any moment it appeared the Flyers were about to punch one into the net.

Unfortunately, Davidson struck first and did so well against the overall run-of-play to put the Flyers down 1-0 in the 28th minute. The well-struck shot to the far post beat GK Carly Becker top-side and was a disappointing circumstance considering the Flyers had controlled most of the game up to that point.

Things would get worse before they got better however.

Once again against the run-of-play, Davidson put a shot on frame that caught Becker off balance. The muffed save squibbed away and trickled into the net to make it 2-0 Wildcats in the 37th minute. In a season where the Flyers haven't caught many breaks, the match felt like so many others this year -- lot of moments of encouragement and anticipation only to be doused by momentary lapses in concentration.

The Flyers continued to dominate the half at about a 60/40 advantage, but couldn't make up any ground before halftime. After 45 minutes, UD held an 8-5 advantage in shots and 3-1 lead in corner kicks.

Head Coach Eric Golz made a goalkeeping change at halftime and called on senior Emily Jones to provide some sure-handedness in the goal box. Meanwhile, the Flyers needed their offense to stop pressuring and start finishing -- the sooner the better as a 2-0 comeback would require a significant amount of work.

Thankfully, freshman Landy Mertz got UD off to a great start just minutes into the 2nd half, chipping the Wildcat goalkeeper to the far left post to trim the deficit to 2-1 in the 49th minute. The early 2nd half goal lit a fire under the Flyer feet and suddenly Dayton was in it to win it.

Mertz was a critical piece in the tying goal seven minutes later, working a give-and-go from Jessica Sheldon to attack the touch line, cut inside, and place a far post cross to fellow freshman Alex Goins. Goins' header redirected to the opposite post, kissed off the iron, and fell in the net to even the match with a half hour yet to play. Not only were the Flyers neck and neck now, they smelled blood and were ready to go for the jugular.

The overall play continued to favor Dayton as the first 30 minutes of the 2nd half were perhaps UD's best half hour of the entire 2019 season. The two scores were part of that reality, but the meat and potatoes came from old-fashioned hustle and passion all over the field. For the first time in perhaps two seasons, the Flyers postured themselves as a team expecting to win rather than hoping to win. That confidence spread wild wildfire across Baujan Field.

All the hard work finally paid off in the 66th minute when Sheldon cleaned up a loose ball along the left side of the goal box and tucked a shot inside the near post to give UD their first lead of the match at 3-2. Now shell-shocked and playing from behind, Davidson had to regroup and do some soul-searching of their own.

The Wildcats did just that, upping their game in the last 20 minutes as they put considerable pressure on the Flyer back line, forcing poke-aways and long-ball clearances to prevent a possible equalizer. Dayton also made additional substitutions in the last 15 minutes in an attempt to get fresh legs on the field to run at players and salt away additional clock. While some of the starters were catching a breather on the bench, the Wildcats took advantage and dominated the last 10 minutes of regulation with constant pressure in their offensive half of the field. They put several dangerous balls in the box but UD's back line did just enough to turn things away at the last second. Jones wasn't asked to make any finger-tip saves in goal but was everywhere she needed to be.

Despite the late-game push, Davidson ran out of clock and the Flyers ran to the bench to celebrate the improbable come-from-behind victory.

Match stats favored UD in shots 17-13 and shots on goal 9-3, as well as a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks.

The victory was a collective one that required a major gut-check by the defense to prevent any more damage after halftime, allowing the offense at least a fleeting chance to cut into the Davidson lead. Mertz's goal in the 49th minute was the critical turning point in the match -- a goal coming just after the restart, providing wind in the Flyers' sails and affording UD almost the entire 2nd half to find one more goal to tie the match up. The Flyers made it 2-2 shortly thereafter and the surge was mainly from the confidence boost of Mertz's terrific far-post strike. The goal took the lid off things -- and perhaps the monkey off their collective backs as well. From the 50th minute onward, Dayton played like they knew victory was all but certain.

The win was also an important one for potential A10 tie-break scenarios at the end of the season. Now even in conference records, UD owns the head-to-head against Davidson and that could prove vitally important in another few weeks.

Dayton hits the road for a match at UMass on Sunday Oct. 13th. Kickoff is 1pm.
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