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UD WSOC Pukes Coat Hangers in 3-1 Loss to Duquesne
UD WSOC Pukes Coat Hangers in 3-1 Loss to Duquesne
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Exclamation UD WSOC Pukes Coat Hangers in 3-1 Loss to Duquesne

As performances go, Thursday night's 3-1 defeat to the Duquesne Dukes will go down as one of the softest and most apathetic performances in recent years. The Dukes entered the match in 2nd place in the A10 while the Flyers were unscored upon at home in 2017. Duquesne scored two minutes after kickoff however and overcame a brief Flyer regrouping to pull away with ease in the 2nd half. Dayton falls to 7-7-2 (2-3-2) while Duquesne improves to 10-3-2 (6-1-0).

The Dukes were a perfect challenge for the Flyers and at a perfect time too. UD returned home after a tie and a loss on the road at SLU and St. Joseph's (PA) last week, a homefield where they were 5-0-0 on the season with all five wins culminating in shutouts. But Thursday's match had only a few sparse moments of decent soccer, book-ended by a terrible start and worse finish.

Just two minutes into the match, Duquesne struck first after the Flyers barfed up a routine challenge in the defensive half that allowed the Dukes to counter along the left side. A cross to the left (near) post just feet from the goal line resulted in a flick redirect that squirted inside the post to make the score 1-0 before all the fans had a chance to take their seats.

Thankfully, UD had 88 minutes to find an equalizer. For a few brief moments in fact, Dayton pieced together some scoring chances that gave fans hope. The Flyers pushed forward with the assistance from left fullback Nadia Pestell -- back on the field after a multi-game hiatus. Her speed out of the back and overlapping dribble-drives forced Duquesne to defend toward the corner flags and remain wide enough to allow other Flyer players to fill the gaps. Pestell won corner kicks or put balls in the box -- a couple of which were well-targeted and only a one-time redirect away from knotting the match at 1-1. The Dukes cleared a ball off the line to preserve their lead however, and eventually the Flyer offense began to sputter as the 1st half continued.

Pestell remained UD's best attacking threat -- despite coming out of the back line to make things happen. Midfield play however was inept in both loose-ball challenges and poorly-weighted passes to players running at the goal mouth. Service was either too long and over the baseline, or well short and easily picked off by DU defenders. Up top, Micayla Livingston, Caroline Mink, and Alexis Kiehl never got on track either.

Duquesne's offense was held largely in check however over the remaining half hour of the 1st half. While they generated more shots, few challenged GK Kaelyn Johns and necessitated a big-time save. Dayton had no counter-punch however. While they did push forward from time to time, UD put nothing on frame and would eventually finish the 1st half with zero shots on goal. As halftime approached, the Flyers were also beginning to lose most of the physical battles in the middle third.

First half stats were even in shots (7-7) while UD had a 4-0 lead in corner kicks. Quantity over quality however.

Down 1-0 to start the 2nd half, UD had 45 minutes to figure it out. In the opening minutes, they appeared a tad more energized. But the urgency faded as soon as Duquesne threw their physicality around and knocked UD off the ball with unimpeded success. Still, one good strike was all the Flyers needed to tie the match and get back on track.

That almost happened, but a one-timer in the box caromed off the crossbar after quality service from the right side. Another scrum directly in front of the right post needed a toe-poke that wasn't there.

Livingston finally evened the score at 1-1 in the 56th minute on a flick directly in front of the left post that snuck past the Duquesne goalkeeper. Perhaps this was the catalyst UD needed to buckle down and play better soccer.

That didn't happen.

Duquesne completely dominated the last 30 minutes of the game, scoring just five minutes later when they turned a shoulder, held off a Flyer defender, and finished a dribble-drive shot in the box that found the lower right corner to take the 2-1 lead. The timing was awful because if felt like the Flyers never had enough time to relish the tie score and use it as a momentum builder.

From there, Dayton more or less quit. The Dukes bludgeoned the Flyers on almost every 50/50 challenge over the last 25 minutes, so much so they were eventually tired of winning the loose balls and started dis-possessing Dayton altogether with solid shoulder checks and quicker pace/recovery. The UD midfield had no answer and had no sustained possession either -- relegating the Flyer attacking players to chase random balls that lacked intent.

The Dukes added an insurance goal to stick a fork in UD's comeback chances in the 82nd minute, this time on another soft challenge in the defensive half that conceded unnecessary possession. The resulting counter-attack only needed a dribble-drive and solid shot on goal to put the road team up 3-1 and effectively turn the lights out. That's how the match ended.

The Flyers actually out-shot Duquesne 10-8 in the 2nd half, including a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks. But the boxscore mis-represented the overall run of play and energy level of both teams -- it was a one-horse race all evening. Dayton had a few chances, but most lacked quality and too many lacked even the slightest buildup. The offense was a hot mess every time the Flyers approached the DU goal box. Spacing, communication, and intent were never on the same page. Throw in a woeful work rate and Dayton deserved to lose the match -- which is a shame because the Dukes -- while sporting a solid record and sound soccer skills -- were still beatable. The Flyers were out-classed by a team that did nothing special -- other than the little things decent teams do that win matches.

Dayton has work to do if they want to assure themselves a spot in the A10 Tournament. Now under .500 in the league standings, Sunday's match against George Washington is an absolute must-win situation for Head Coach Eric Golz' squad. They've run out of mulligans and run out of time. Unless the level of play drastically improves -- just the work ethic alone -- it's a team that might not have what it takes to finish better than they started.

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

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