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MSOC: Flyers Top Hawks 3-2 in OT
MSOC: Flyers Top Hawks 3-2 in OT
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
10-05-2017
Smile MSOC: Flyers Top Hawks 3-2 in OT

The Dayton Flyers fell behind early, earned a 2-1 halftime lead, then needed a Jonas Fjelfberg strike from long distance to break a 2-2 tie just three minutes into overtime to top the St. Joseph's (PA) Hawks 3-2 on Wednesday evening at Baujan Field. Dayton remains undefeated in the A10 at 2-0-0 (5-5-2 overall), while SJU falls to 2-6-3 (0-1-0).

The opening minutes of the 1st half were perhaps the most lethargic by a Flyer squad all season -- at least at home. Slower to react to the ball, UD had trouble winning 50/50 challenges, keeping their shape, and controlling possession for any sustained periods. The Hawks flew all over the pitch and pushed numbers forward, causing Dayton to fall into a defensive posture that seemed as surprising as it was frustrating.

Just as UD started to regain their speed of play and start controlling the ball however, the Hawks struck first on a near-post run on a corner kick that resulted in a header to the lower far post and the 1-0 SJU lead in the 10th minute.

In some respects the Flyers deserved the misfortune given their early start, but it came at a time when UD was beginning to also find their groove. They were just minutes -- or moments perhaps -- from seizing control and dodging trouble.

Down 1-0, Dayton kept taking positive steps forward and eventually shed their malaise altogether. After surrendering six corner kicks in the first 15 minutes of the match, the Flyers turned the momentum around and became the more aggressive side. Pushing players forward and playing wide at the touch lines, UD probed for open gaps in the offensive half of the field.

UD punished SJU for one of those gaps in the 21st minute when Alvaro Navarro dished a perfectly-timed and weighted through-ball to Rok Taneski breaking against the flat SJU defensive line. The timing was right and so was Taneski's ultimate finish past Hawk GK Greg O'Connell to even the score at 1-1.

From there, UD had the better run of play over the final 25 minutes of the 1st half. Thor Helgason worked the SJU goal box as a moving high-ball target, while Taneski, Navarro, James Haupt, and others used good pace to make things happen in the middle third.

UD kept knocking on the door for the go-ahead score, but SJU did just enough to keep the match at 1-1. The Flyers also kept SJU out of the nets as well, thanks to GK Federico Barrios coming off his line on several occasions to clear away loose change near the edge of his goal box.

With the 1st half coming to a close, UD cashed in just 45 seconds from intermission when Helgason headed in a cross in the box from David Lianes to make the score 2-1.

First half stats were in SJU's favor in shots (8-7) and corner kicks (6-2).

Up a goal entering the 2nd half, the Flyers were in a good spot. After the slow start to the match, they got progressively better over the last 30 minutes of the 1st half and were now the decidedly stronger side. Scoring again to make it 3-1 would probably take the wind out of SJU's sails for good.

It didn't work out that way however and SJU once again turned opportunistic on a set piece in the 58th minute with their second goal of the match on a quality header in the box that caught Barrios leaning the wrong direction. It wasn't necessarily Barrios' fault -- his defenders did not give him a lot of help -- but it gave him no chance to make the save. With the score deadlocked at 2-2, the next goal would likely win the match.

Over the last half hour of regulation, Dayton more or less dominated. At times they generated the kind of scoring chances that would produce goals, but each time a shot off target, quality save, or defensive recovery by the SJU back line would save their bacon and keep the Hawks even. UD hit the post on one occasion and had another opportunity cleared off the goal line. Taneski had a couple close-range chances in particular he'd probably like a redo.

Still, UD kept their foot on the gas pedal and SJU did their best to hold on. Numerous close calls came and went and while it was frustrating to see the match flirt with extra time to declare a winner, the Flyers never let the near-misses affect their ability to push players forward and try again.

Extra time was ultimately needed however. Jonas Fjeldberg put a stop to things in the 93rd minute with a rocket from 20yds out that found the upper post and sent the Hawks packing. Perfect strike, perfect ending.

Second half stats underscored UD's best 45 minutes of the match as they outshot SJU 11-4 and out-cornered the Hawks 5-3.

The Hawks are unlikely to make the A10 postseason tournament and there won't be a ton of chest-pounding after needing OT to beat a squad with just two wins on the season. This was still an important result however as it kept UD in 1st place and undefeated in the A10 (2-0-0). With results hard to come by this season, every win is a cause for celebration no matter the level of competition. Dayton must "win the winnables" left on the schedule to ensure their own ticket to the A10 Tourney and a win over St. Joseph's was precisely what they needed. This is not a team capable of the same style points as past UD squads. Winning -- by any margin and by any means -- is what's most important right now.

UD travels to George Washington for a Saturday night match against the Colonels.
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C. M. Rieman | Publisher | 937.361.4630 | Get the latest here:

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