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WSOC: Three 2nd Half Goals Top Fordham 3-0
WSOC: Three 2nd Half Goals Top Fordham 3-0
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: Three 2nd Half Goals Top Fordham 3-0

The Dayton Flyers mucked around for 45 minutes on Thursday evening, but everything changed after halftime. Correcting the mistakes of the first half, UD erased a scoreless halftime to dispatch the Fordham Rams with a 3-0 shutout at Baujan Field. Dayton improves to 10-5-2 (7-2-0) while Fordham drops to 3-12-2 (1-7-1).

The opening moments of the game produced a dangerous UD shot that just missed wide of the far post, but shortly thereafter things turned sloppy with unforced Flyer turnovers stifling the ability to move forward with possession. After 10 minutes of play, Dayton settled down and looked for Jessica Sheldon along the left touch line. Speedy feet and dribble-drive runs opened up her left foot for high-quality crosses into the Fordham goal box, but no one was home to redirect those chances directly in front of the net or at the far post.

The sloppy play returned over the last 15 minutes of the first half with additional giveaways and sketchy run-of-play that was painfully slow at times. Lack of pace when connecting passes and moving forward limited the open-space opportunities and allowed the Rams to keep defensive numbers behind the ball. Precision in the offensive third of the field was also problematic as passing, tactics, and execution waned when the Flyers were knocking on the door. Finally, physicality inside the Ram goal box was never quite enough as Fordham out-muscled UD for the 50/50 balls that mattered -- helped in part by Dayton shying away from contact on too many challenges.

The Flyers also earned a handful of corner kicks but at least a pair were served behind the net. The sloppiness at the flag summed up the overall tenor of the first 45 minutes. UD was the better squad with better talent, but also too comfortable at times with their own lethargic posture.

Halftime stats favored UD 6-1 in shots but just 2-1 in shots on goal. Corner kicks were 5-2.

Dayton opened the second half with Maddie Crosbie in goal in place of Madelyn Dewey. The Flyers also displayed much better pace and sense of urgency in the offense. A couple corner kicks and bouncing balls in the box produced a pair of strong scoring chances, but UD couldn't get a proper touch and put the ball in the back of the net. Diana Benigno missed a great opportunity from 9yds out but mis-hit her attempt.

Benigno made up for it in the 52nd minute with a blast from 25yds out that found the upper 90 of the right post to put the Flyers up 1-0 and alleviate some pressure and frustration. The high-level strike left the Ram goalkeeper with no chance at a save but a great view as she watched it tuck in.

The restart didn't affect the Flyers as they maintained a stronger pace of play and continued to push forward and forced the Fordham back line to defend on their heels. The Rams' best scoring opportunities came on counter-attacks, often by long balls or punts out of the back that forced UD's defenders to clean up tricky high-bouncing balls while facing their own goal.

The Rams nearly tied it up in the 71st minute on a midfield through-ball that caught the UD back line flat-footed. Crosbie's two-handed deflection stayed in play but the rebound went over the crossbar to preserve the 1-0 advantage.

Dayton got an important insurance goal in the 74th minute when Itala Gemelli got loose on the left side and fed a perfect low-ball cross to Alicia Donley making a far-post run. Donley tapped it off the Ram goalkeeper to make it 2-0 and dash Fordham's thoughts of pulling off the upset.

UD added a third goal just a minute later on a corner kick finish from Laney Huber directly in front of the net. Huber out-fought everybody else in the scrum and redirected off a Ram defender attempting to make a desperate clearance. Up 3-0 with 15 minutes remaining, the outcome was fully decided.

Additional scoring opportunities developed in the final minutes as Fordham's defensive marking loosened up and allowed Flyer mids and forwards to either dish wide to open teammates or challenge 1 vs. 1 with the dribble-drive into open space.

The Flyers outshot Fordham by a whopping 18-4 margin in the final 45 minutes, including a commanding 7-0 advantage in corner kicks. UD put 11 of 24 total shots on frame -- most of them in the second half.

Dayton's second half awakening wasn't hard to figure out. Better physicality on loose-ball challenges, faster pace of play, and more urgency around the Ram goal box all contributed to the halftime turnaround. In essence, UD leaned on their strengths and once the dedication was there to play up to their own abilities rather than down to the opponent, the entire match changed and the Flyers controlled most of the possession and goal-scoring opportunities.

Sheldon was unmarkable along the left touch lines and boomed in crosses all evening -- even calling her own number at times by faking a cross and dribbling past the defender for shots on goal. Benigno came off the bench and provided some much-needed toughness to dig balls out and re-establish some authority within the middle third. Yaiza Navarro-Leon tracked back and helped defend alongside the UD back line -- especially at the corner flags when Fordham managed to get deep into Flyer territory. While Gemelli didn't find the back of the net, she was active and drew enough attention to open up space for others pushing forward. Natalie Hegg, Addie Shock, and Lexy Kidd kept the Fordham attack limited to counter-attacks only. Aside from the lone Ram opportunity on a midfield feed that caught the back line flat-footed, they won the loose balls they needed to with strong clearances and did not take unnecessary chances.

Now winners of seven of their last eight matches, the Flyers finish out the regular season with a road match at Richmond on Sunday afternoon.

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

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