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WSOC: Winless Sycamores Down Flyers 1-0
WSOC: Winless Sycamores Down Flyers 1-0
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Exclamation WSOC: Winless Sycamores Down Flyers 1-0

The Indiana State Sycamores came into Sunday afternoon's match at Baujan Field winless on the season at 0-5-0, but changed all that after 90 minutes against the Dayton Flyers by securing the gritty 1-0 victory. Despite dominating much of the play, UD surrendered a goal on ISU's only quality scoring opportunity of the match to fall to 1-4-1 (0-0-0) on the season.

The opening minutes of the first half were relatively even as both teams knocked the ball around as they probed the opposing defenses for room to work in. Both sides had moments where they looked dangerous in the offensive third of the field, but the back lines were organized and never allowed strikers good clean looks at the goal mouth.

ISU had a stretch of about 10 minutes where they controlled possession and worked the ball down the flanks by stretching UD's defensive shape, but the Flyers withstood the sequences and eventually shifted momentum in the other direction. Several excellent scoring chances came from it too, in part from through-balls toward the top of the Sycamore goal box to attacking players asking for vertical service. A couple chances in particular were about as good as they come -- one vs one with a defender or just the goalkeeper to beat. Unfortunately, UD struggled to finish opportunities in the first half and that proved to be a storyline over the course of the entire match. The Flyers continued to generate 1st half scoring chances including a shot that hit the post and another opportunity on one of the few shots on frame that required a quality ISU goalkeeping save. Too often however, shots were sprayed far and wide and never had an honest chance of finding the net.

To their credit, ISU remained stingy and while denying UD on one end, did just enough in their own attack to force Dayton to defend the gaps in transition. The Sycamores eventually made the Flyers pay for a defensive lapse in the 37th minute when Celeste Wahlberg beat a defender 1v1 while moving to her right, firing an uncontested shot to the lower post that put ISU up 1-0. It was an unfortunate mistake considering how few quality chances ISU had to that point -- and would eventually generate thereafter.

Halftime arrived with the Flyers leading in shots 13-6 and corner kicks 3-1.

The first 5-8 minutes of the second half weren't much to speak of, but UD eventually took command of the overall run of play and began dominating everywhere it mattered. Dayton won loose balls, attacked the touch lines, and slowly began to shove ISU into a defensive bunker for the remaining 35 minutes of regulation. While the Sycamores had moments of rest as they countered with half-chances on the other end, those periods were few and far between. Before long, the Flyers were peppering the ISU goal box with crosses, corner kicks, free kicks, and dangerous scrums that required timely saves or clearances by the Sycamore back line.

The consistent pressure was solid, but the finish work inside the box remained highly problematic. Too often, UD was a half-step late, one additional shoulder challenge short, or one fortunate bounce away from the clean look at the net they needed to even the match at 1-1.

Despite the lopsided run of play, ISU almost made it 2-0 on a counter-attack after getting behind the last Flyer defender, but GK Carly Becker did just enough to mangle up the Sycamore chance and keep the Flyers within reach.

As more scoring chances came and went however, frustration settled in and things eventually felt like it was never meant to be. While UD was unlucky in three or four specific moments, teams usually generate their own good fortune and Dayton never had enough attention to detail when it mattered to make that a reality. A final flurry of offensive scoring chances came and went in the last 10 minutes but ISU's defense held firm and pulled off the upset.

Dayton outshot ISU 29-9 overall, but shots on goal were just 5-3 -- 24 of UD's 29 shots were outside the strike zone. An 8-1 corner kick advantage never mattered either.

Head Coach Eric Golz started six freshmen in the starting XI on Sunday, then brought another two frosh off the bench to go along with seven sophomores that ultimately saw the field. That's 15 of 20 players comprising underclassmen and that youth and experience was on display at times. In defense of the young guns however, they were also often the most composed and dangerous players while upperclassmen struggled in equal parts for similar stretches. On a team without a large margin for error, matches where both older and younger players fail to execute the details is not a short- or long-term recipe for success.

As the season has progressed however, more underclassmen are seeing the field and if nothing else the reps will only make them better. The speed and athleticism Dayton desperately needs on the pitch is from the lower classes so it's imperative they are allowed to play through mistakes and even the unsavory growing pains like Sunday afternoon's result. Alex Goins, Laney Huber, Landy Mertz, Jessica Sheldon, Yaiza Navarro-Leon, Audrey Steiert, and others are the future face of the program. They can't grow up and eliminate the high-school trot by constantly sitting on the pine. Until then, Golz needs a bit more from his juniors and seniors.

Dayton travels to Louisville on Thursday evening for a 7:30p matchup against the Cardinals.

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

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