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MSOC: Golden Goal Secures Wild 4-3 Win and A10 Tourney Bid
MSOC: Golden Goal Secures Wild 4-3 Win and A10 Tourney Bid
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
10-30-2021
Smile MSOC: Golden Goal Secures Wild 4-3 Win and A10 Tourney Bid

The Dayton Flyers needed a victory on Saturday night in the A10 regular season finale to extend the season and qualify for the A10 tournament, but the Duquesne Dukes -- already qualified -- played first-half spoiler and scored twice before intermission to hold a 2-1 lead and nearly snuff out those intentions. Dayton found three second-half goals however and after surrendering a late Duquesne score that forced overtime, won the match 4-3 in OT on a golden goal in the 96th minute. UD finishes the regular season at 6-8-3 (3-4-1) and earns the #8 seed while Duquesne heads into A10 Tournament play at 8-6-2 (3-3-1).

Cool and damp conditions representing typical late-October weather greeted both teams as the match got underway. The Flyers were in the precarious position of needing a win to qualify for the A10 postseason tournament, but the task became more challenging just minutes into the game. The Dukes broke free along the left touch line and placed a cross into the box from the corner flag. The one-time redirect at the near post forced a reaction save by GK Marc Kouadio, but he was unable to handle it cleanly. Duquesne poked the loose-ball rebound into the net for the 1-0 advantage in the 7th minute.

Playing from behind early in the first half was not the recipe for success and plans were made more difficult with the absence of Kingsford Adjei -- red-carded in the prior match and forced to sit tonight's match on the bench.

Dayton found some possession however, moving the ball forward and infiltrating the Duquesne goal box with a couple crosses or half-chances to get something on frame. While the opportunities did not produce a goal, it offered the fans some optimism that UD could eventually net an equalizer and regain control of the match.

That optimism quickly faded in the 16th minute however when the Dukes countered along the left side and penetrated the UD goal box with a well-timed through-ball. With only Kouadio to beat, the Dukes slotted it home as he charged from goal to put Duquesne up 2-0 and put the Flyers on the ropes.

Fortunately, Dayton didn't waste time feeling sorry for themselves. Andy Sanchez cleaned up a rebound in the Duquesne goal box and buried a shot into the back of the net from 10 yards out to cut the deficit to 2-1 just two minutes after the Dukes started pulling away.

The remaining 25 minutes of the half was a back-and-forth battle as each team took turns probing forward on the attack, using pace and long service to catch the back lines flat-footed. Those attempts however were largely hit-and-miss. Quality shots on frame were few and and far between even with long-ball service and crosses into the goal boxes. The first half ended with the Flyers down 2-1 but after falling behind 2-0, their chances were much-improved by keeping the Dukes within an arm's length.

Halftime stats were fairly even with the Dukes leading in shots 7-6 and corner kicks 4-3.

Dayton applied pressure early in the second half attempting to tie the match and salvage their season. After a handful of crosses and half-chances inside the Duquesne goal box, they found the net but the goal was disallowed for impingement on the Dukes' goalkeeper. Not discouraged however, UD's persistence paid off in the 53rd minute when Jake Feiner finished a deflected save to the far post to even the match at 2-2 and provide his team a half hour of soccer to settle in and work for a ticket-puncher to the A10 tournament.

The Flyers continued to exert strong pressure in the offensive third of the field, forcing the Dukes to defend with numbers in the box and turn away high balls in the air as well as clear danger off the wet Baujan Field pitch. Geni Kenyane almost put UD up 3-2 in the 63rd minute with a rocketed shot on frame, but the Dukes goalkeeper stared it down and deflected it away.

UD took the lead in the 68th minute on a pinball sequence directly in front of the box. Forster Ajago got credit for the go-ahead score though it may have been an own-goal. Nevertheless, the comeback was complete and the challenge remaining was to hold the Dukes scoreless for the next 22 minutes. Duquesne almost tied it up just moments later however on a counter-attack with numbers in the box, but several shot attempts came and went despite Kouadio pulled out from goal and chasing a broken defensive presence directly in front of the net.

The Dukes didn't sit on their hands however and pack it in. Their offensive-mindedness tied the match in the 77th minute after a poor Flyer clearance set up a second and third scoring chance inside the UD goal box. After collecting the bad clear, the Dukes shook a defender and went lower right post as Kouadio stood still and unable to do anything but watch it tuck inside.

Some great scoring chances materialized in the final 10 minutes, including a final flurry of corner kicks and shots inside the mixer. Duquesne cleared a ball off the line in the final three minutes to protect the 3-3 score and eventually send the match into extra time.

Dayton needed a golden goal with up to an additional 20 minutes of soccer on tap -- a tie or loss would end the season. There was no sense playing conservative or with too many numbers behind the ball, yet 20 minutes was enough time to avoid panic mode and show a calm maturity to manufacture the game-winner.

Whether it was maturity or just outstanding play -- it didn't matter. Dayton wasted no time applying strong pressure at the Duquesne goal box, in part from several corner kick chances after defensive clearances rolled over the baseline. UD took full advantage and after several attempts they knocked a header home after a flurry of high-ball challenges on the last sequence of the match. Michael Adedokun was the final UD player to get a touch and poked it into the back of the net to win the game 4-3 and secure UD's qualification into the A10 tournament.

In what turned into a shootout, UD clawed their way back the hard way, suffering a two-goal deficit, taking the lead, surrendering a late goal, then rebounding nicely to notch the golden-goal game-winner.

Second half and overtime stats illustrated Dayton's improved production on offense, resulting in a decisive 14-8 advantage in shots and whopping 8-0 advantage in corner kicks.

Despite finishing the A10 season under .500, the Flyers owned the tie-breakers against UMass and George Washington and earned the #8 and final seed in the bracket.
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