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WSOC: DePaul Slips Past Dayton 1-0
WSOC: DePaul Slips Past Dayton 1-0
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Exclamation WSOC: DePaul Slips Past Dayton 1-0

The Dayton Flyers battled to a scoreless halftime draw, but surrendered a goal to DePaul in the 2nd half and couldn't make up the deficit in a 1-0 loss on Sunday afternoon at Baujan Field. The Blue Demons capitalized on a Dayton mistake in the defensive third that opened up uncontested space for a far-post finish and the ultimate game-winner. DePaul improves to 1-3-0 (0-0-0) while UD falls to 1-2-1 (0-0-0).

DePaul entered the match winless on the season, but deserved a result or two given their play against solid opponents including Milwaukee, SMU, and Purdue -- teams the Blue Demons dominated in stats but couldn't deliver on the scoreboard. The Flyers were looking to bounce back from a scoreless draw against Xavier earlier in the week. Something had to give.

The opening minutes were back and forth but the Flyers showed some promise moving forward when opportunities materialized. The best success came when UD targeted players down the touch lines to put pressure on the Blue Demon outside fullbacks.

For the first 20 minutes, it worked -- especially when freshman Jessica Sheldon eventually subbed in and lifted UD's pace. Time and again Sheldon was able to run down long balls, turn the corner, and serve baseline crosses into the DePaul goal box for teammates to collect and finish. Unfortunately, those opportunities came and went. At times the effort to win those loose balls inside the mixer were hit-or-miss.

The middle 25 minutes of the 1st half swung back in DePaul's favor as they won a preponderance of 50/50 balls in the central third that allowed them to push forward and apply consistent pressure in the UD back line. The Flyers did themselves no favors however; for stretches they did not handle the pressure very well. Poor passing from the back line -- including a couple dangerous giveaways by GK Carly Becker -- almost cost the Flyers a goal. With distribution lacking in the back, UD had trouble moving forward or sustaining possession and subsequent buildup.

The last 10-12 minutes of the half however were much better. Dayton's spacing improved and more balls down the flanks proved to be the best chance at a go-ahead goal. Meanwhile, possession and movement in the midfield remained a struggle. Yaiza Navarro-Leon only had a few touches and played as a withdrawn midfielder when Coach Golz might have preferred her to get more assertive in the attack. Still, the Flyers managed to reach intermission deadlocked at 0-0 with the match more or less evenly played.

First half stats slightly favored DePaul in shots (8-5) and corner kicks (2-0).

The second half proved more difficult as the Blue Demons won more loose balls and kept UD from generating sustained possession of their own. DePaul had just enough of a speed advantage over the entire roster to keep Dayton chasing a bit, although the Flyers continued to substitute to try to resolve the issue. With most of the speed residing in the freshmen class however, the newbies couldn't run a full 90 minutes and needed a break. When they weren't on the field, the lack of pace was more noticeable.

Dayton paid for the repetitive sloppy play in the defensive third by over-committing and getting out of position for an uncontested strike to the far post in the 58th minute. It was the only major gaff of the afternoon, but in a match this tightly contested, such an error would likely be the difference in the game.

The Flyers tried to generate the equalizer but lack of midfield presence to act as a conduit from defense to offense mad the job more difficult. Most opportunities consisted of long balls over the top to Sheldon, Alexis Goins, Caroline Mink, Laney Huber, or Micayla Livingston. Other than Sheldon however, the pace of play was just never quite there. In their defense, the service wasn't either.

UD scrambled in the last 10 minutes to force overtime but the quality scoring chances never came. DePaul remained organized in the back line and never got caught too far out of position to allow Dayton a wide open shot attempt on goal. The Flyers even had trouble generating corner kicks despite pushing several balls to the baseline. When the smoke cleared, the Blue Demons milked the clock out and held on the 1-0 road win.

Match stats favored DePaul in shots (13-10) and corner kicks (3-1), although shots on goal favored the Flyers (4-3).

Head Coach Eric Golz' squad remains a work in progress and Sunday's performance largely summarized that reality. Half of the players that saw the field were true freshmen, nevermind a brand-new goalkeeper in her first season as a Flyer starter. The biggest challenge for newcomers is developing consistency from game to game and UD fans felt that at times when the execution or attention to detail sputtered. Much of UD's struggle to generate a meaningful push forward was a result of few touches in the midfield. Navarro-Leon is Dayton's best bet as a distributing midfielder, but it will take her some time to grow confident enough to demand every ball every time she's open -- and move forward in the attack more often.

Sheldon had an excellent afternoon and ran her defenders ragged. She probably did enough to earn an assist, but the pace around her was not at her level.

Dayton must also clean up the distribution in the defensive third. Too often, hospital balls found the feet of opposing players and were near calamities. The Flyers don't have the margin of error to gift-wrap decent opponents a free goal and still believe winning is probable let alone possible. UD must execute, minimize mistakes, and get the youngsters in-game experience they can leverage in October and November. Sunday afternoon was a winnable match against an opponent as good or better than the Flyers -- but not by much. On another day with a better effort, the defeat could have been a victory. For now however, it's an early-season teaching moment for a young and inexperienced team.

UD travels to Bowling Green for a match on Thursday (9/5). Kickoff is 7pm.

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

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