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WSOC: Flyers Fall to Louisville 1-0
WSOC: Flyers Fall to Louisville 1-0
C.M. Rieman
Published by Chris R
08-24-2018
Smile WSOC: Flyers Fall to Louisville 1-0

DAYTON (OH) -- In a battle of early season unbeatens, the Louisville Cardinals found the net in the first half and held on for the tight 1-0 victory Thursday evening at Baujan Field. A mis-touch in the defensive third created a UL counter-attack that resulted in an own-goal deflection that ended up the difference in the match. The Flyers fall to 2-1-0 (0-0-0) while Louisville improves to 3-0-0 (0-0-0).

Fresh off a pair of victories away from home to start the 2018 season, the unbeaten Flyers were in a good spot heading into their home owner vs ACC competition. The Cardinals dispatched Xavier in overtime a few days prior and shredded Wright State 8-1 too. Fans weren't sure what to expect from either side.

The opening minutes of the game were an indication however that Dayton had its hands full. The Cardinals were more technical on their first touches and managed to control possession early on with simple but effective passing from the back line to the mids and forwards. The Flyers spent a lot of time chasing the ball and had equal trouble transitioning to offense when collecting possession of their own.

Early on, Louisville applied more offensive pressure and sent several balls into the Flyer goal box that UD's back line managed to turn away with timely clears or tackles. In other moments, GK Kaelyn Johns stepped up and plucked balls from the air to turn additional Cardinal scoring chances away as well.

Once the Flyers dug a ball deep out of their defensive third, they had trouble finding feet in the midfield to play to. Long-ball clearances went to UD's strikers outnumbered at the midfield stripe, often resulting in lost possession and a cycle of continued Louisville pressure.

More so than a lack of midfield presence however, Dayton's first touches let them down over the first 20 minutes. Routine traps got away from the cleats and were a systemic problem that allowed the Cards to capitalize and transition well into UD's defensive half of the field. The Flyers couldn't blame the pitch as Baujan Field was manicured like an Augusta fairway.

The lack of concentration on one particular touch provided Louisville just the counter they needed in the 22nd minute to take the lead and ultimately win the game. Collecting the errant ball, the Cards carried forward, found space, and ultimately cashed in on a Flyer deflection to earn an own-goal on a chance that may have spelled doom anyway.

Dayton didn't throw in the towel however and while out-flanked in technical ability, experience, and speed of play, managed to bother Louisville just enough to play the Cards even over the remaining half hour of the first half. UD's best scoring chances came on late-half corner kick and one flurry in the box several minutes prior. A couple other half-chances came and went however with poor trapping that resulted in unforced turnovers.

Shots were just 4-2 in favor of Louisville, while UD attempted the lone corner kick of the first 45 minutes.

The Flyers were just a goal away from dead-locking the match at 1-1 and playing for a come-from-behind victory. The posture at the start of the second half seemed good. UD kept battling and won a few key slide tackles to lift their spirits. Ball possession and run-of-play however were still a significant challenge as the Flyers needed four or five touches of the ball to accomplish what Louisville could sew up in one or two. Those additional touches allowed Card players enough time to close down space and lock a Flyer into few distribution options. With few places to outlet the ball, Dayton continued sending long balls forward without much purpose.

The Flyer forwards didn't help the cause however as they dug out few balls, nevermind pressured the Louisville back line to make them uncomfortable enough to cough up a bad touch or two. The Card defenders had it too easy and were able to pinch forward to midfield without any resistance. On offense, the UD midfield failed to act as a conduit of possession from defense to offense as well, disappearing for long stretches while watching the match play behind and in front of them.

To their credit however, the UD defense remained stingy. Despite being outshot 10-2 in the second half, the Flyer back line did enough to give the mids and forwards a chance to tie the game and earn a result. Johns came up huge on one second-half Card attack in particular, scrambling from her box and sliding for a fingertip snatch near the edge of her goal box acting as the last defender. She tipped another shot over the crossbar that could have easily found the back of the net too. Nadia Pestell and Beth Kamphaus were also solid.

After chasing the ball for 75 minutes, tired legs were apparent over the last 15 minutes as Louisville applied sustained pressure in the UD defensive third. Unable to clear the ball away and find any possession of their own to move forward, Dayton was forced to make timely tackles and poke-aways along the edge of their goal box to keep the score 1-0. For a 10 minute period it felt like the Flyers were playing down 3-0 despite just needing a goal to tie things up and play for points. But some of that must be attributed to the youth and inexperience on the field.

While UD was outclassed technically and the better team prevailed, Head Coach Eric Golz played a lot of freshmen and more or less got a decent effort out of the talent at hand. The team is still a major work in progress and the product on the field was an accurate reflection of where things currently stand as the rebuilding and maturation process continues. In other words, UD punched at its weight class and it would be unfair to expect significantly more at this point in time given these realities. More talented teams than Dayton can and will lose to Louisville by bigger margins.

The good news is UD continues to keep the score down and has yet to surrender more than one goal in its first three matches. That's a huge step in the right direction and while Dayton needs a ball-winner/distributor in the midfield to emerge that can feed the strikers with through-balls and touch-line service, the Flyers will continue to give themselves a chance if they can remain stingy in front of their own net.

After three matches, sitting at 2-1-0 is not hateful knowing what we know.

UD hits the road for a game at Eastern Michigan on Aug 26.
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