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MSOC: Dayton Falls to #10 Kentucky 3-1
MSOC: Dayton Falls to #10 Kentucky 3-1
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile MSOC: Dayton Falls to #10 Kentucky 3-1

The Dayton Flyers suffered their fifth defeat in six outings as the #10 Kentucky Wildcats took care of business with a workman-like 3-1 victory on Wednesday evening at Baujan Field. Two first half goals put UD in trouble and a third after halftime provided insurance as UD falls to 3-5-2 (0-1-0). Kentucky remains unbeaten at 6-0-2 (0-0-2).

Head Coach Dennis Currier's squad has been in a scoring drought unlike any other in recent memory, especially unusual for a program used to scoring a lot of goals. Going 0-4-1 in the last five outings with just two goals scored along the way, playing host to the Top-10 Wildcats wasn't the most advantageous way to turn things around. It was an opportunity nonetheless to knock off a ranked opponent for the first time this year.

Kentucky controlled possession from the opening kickoff with lengthy stretches of linked passing and overlaps along the flanks. Their shape was very good and stretched the field as movement off the ball caused Dayton all kinds of defensive issues. Dayton had trouble slowing UK's ability to put balls wherever they wanted on the pitch. With confidence on the ball, the Wildcats found ways to work together in tight spaces that freed up other teammates elsewhere on the field. Kentucky always had one or two opening passing options while Dayton struggled to find feet. UD also tried long balls over the top but they were largely wasted opportunities that felt like unforced turnovers.

Kentucky struck for the first time in the 13th minute on a side volley rebound at the far post after an errant clearance. Up 1-0, Kentucky kept their foot on the gas and scored just four minutes later -- though it was a Flyer defensive miscue that resulted in the 2-0 deficit. UD played a short-ball goalkick but was subsequently dispossessed just 25yds out. Kentucky walked it in and one pass later finished an easy shot past Flyer GK Marc Kouadio.

The next 30 minutes weren't much better for the Flyers as UK dominated the run of play while surrendering little space in their own defensive half. The Dayton attack failed to generate any meaningful scoring chances because Kentucky's back line was never out of position or caught flat-footed. The Wildcats missed two more terrific scoring chances and by halftime UD was fortunate to only trail 2-0.

Halftime stats were dominated by Kentucky in shots 9-0 and corner kicks 4-1.

The Flyers showed much better form after halftime and manufactured some much-needed possession to counter Kentucky's deliberate style. Overall effort also improved and as the second half continued UD finally found some open space to move the ball forward to try to solve Kentucky's back line. While shots and shots on goal remained few and far between, the improved play kept UK from walking the dog over the last half hour of play.

A bevy of free kicks and corner kicks gave Dayton their best scoring chances of the second half and while most of them came and went, UD finally cashed in with a far-post header by Eren Elbustu in the 71st minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. It was great service, a great finish, and just the third goal surrendered by Kentucky all season.

Dayton not only got themselves back in the match, they started generating the bulk of the scoring chances over the next five minutes of play. More corner kicks and better movement off the ball freed up the Flyer offense to find space moving forward. It was a case of less thinking and more playing as instincts took over and better form prevailed. With 15 minutes left in regulation the momentum of the match turned as UD kept knocking on the door for the equalizer. Kentucky looked a bit rattled.

But as quickly as Dayton made a snoozer of a match a real contest again, Kentucky answered with a third goal in the 77th minute after outmuscling the Flyer defense with a dispossession that also beat Kouadio charging from goal. That was the final nail in the coffin as there was too much distance and too little time left to recover.

Second half stats reflected the more competitive action as Kentucky edged UD 6-5 in shots while while the Flyers won the corner kick battle 7-3. Still, the Flyers managed just one shot on goal all night as the offense continues to struggle generating dangerous scoring chances -- nevermind putting balls on frame.

With an 0-5-1 record in the last six matches, there's nowhere to go but up. During the spring season the Flyers struggled in the non-conference portion of the schedule as well, but turned it all around with a 4-1-1 A10 record that crowned the Flyers regular season champs. This time however, the concerns feel more pronounced and there's no Jonas Fjeldberg type of player on the field to carry a team on his back with repetitive moments of individual brilliance. It feels like a team still searching for roles and identities and with a 7-2-1 UMass squad on deck for Saturday night, things don't get any easier.

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

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