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WSOC: UD Finishes Scoring Chances in 4-1 Win over Cincinnati
WSOC: UD Finishes Scoring Chances in 4-1 Win over Cincinnati
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: UD Finishes Scoring Chances in 4-1 Win over Cincinnati

The UD women's soccer team improved to 2-0-0 on Sunday evening by capitalizing on scoring chances and leaning on a bend-but-not-break defense that did just enough to slow down a persistent Cincinnati Bearcat offense. A pair of goals in each half did the damage as the Flyers struggled at times but excelled in other key moments to win the back yard brawl at Baujan Field. UC falls to 0-2-0.

High heat and humidity sweltered the pitch to begin play and Cincinnati looked the fresher of the two teams in the opening minutes of the match. Controlling possession and overall tempo, UC did well to knock the ball around and force the Flyers to chase an attack that liked to use the entire width of the field. Dayton had trouble collecting the ball for significant stretches early on, and once they did win possession they often gave it back in short order with errant service or squishy first touches. Part of the struggle was a lack of pace and movement off the ball, limiting options for players attempting to maneuver out of trouble and find open areas to play into.

While the Bearcats looked more capable, it was UD that struck first in the 19th minute -- largely against the run of play -- when Noel Blain tattooed a laser from 25yds that ricocheted off the upper-90 of the far left post to stun Cincinnati and put the Flyers up 1-0. A better ball can't be struck.

Suddenly it was "game on" and UD turned their fortunes around in the final 25 minutes of the half. What started as a decisive UC advantage eventually transitioned into an even game where both sides had opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net.

Dayton's back line did well to turn away UC scoring chances. A bevy of long defensive rallies looked a bit sketchy in certain moments, but timely tracking and clearances did just enough to deny shots on goal and keep the Bearcats off the scoreboard -- as well as provide the offense a chance to extend the lead.

Madison Wilson fulfilled that narrative in the 38th minute after cleaning up a loose ball in the box to put the Flyers on top 2-0 -- a lead they would ultimately protect heading into intermission.

Halftime stats favored UD in shots 7-1 and corner kicks 1-0 but those numbers masked the competitive play and physicality of the first 45 minutes as both sides had equal amounts of the ball and opportunities to score.

Down 2-0, Cincinnati bounced back to begin the 2nd half and forced the Flyers into a defensive bunker for extended stretches as they peppered the UD goal mouth with crosses and dribble-drives. Dayton's offense sputtered past midfield just a handful of times while the fullbacks worked overtime to keep balls out of the net despite the onslaught of pressure. To their credit the back line bent but didn't break and GK Batoul Reda was terrific in her moments. Commanding high balls in the air from crosses or asserting herself with hard-line charges to snuff out garbage in the box, Reda was always in the right place at the right time with soft hands to take care of business.

Still, UC kept knocking and the match felt like it was only a matter of time before their pressure would pay off with a Bearcat goal to trim the lead in half. It didn't happen however and UD continued to turn away danger and shorten the second half clock to narrow the Bearcats' window of opportunity to rally for a comeback.

The Flyers put the match away in the 78th minute when Mairin Wessner tapped in a loose ball directly in front of the box that deflected off the mitts of the Bearcat goalkeeper after a prior UD shot on frame. The goal -- once again -- came against the general run of play but couldn't have come at a better time.

Cincinnati scored just a minute later on a free kick in front of the box to cut the lead to 3-1, but Wessner found the net 45 seconds later with more housekeeping inside the box to make the score 4-1 with just 10 minutes remaining. UD salted things away with more stingy defense to earn the opening weekend sweep of the 2023 regular season.

Second half stats favored UC in shots 8-4 and corner kicks 8-4, indicative of the greater sense of urgency they showcased after halftime. Saves were even at 3-3 for the match.

Sunday's victory was a solid and satisfying result for numerous reasons. The Flyers put another four goals on the scoreboard to add to the four they tallied against Loyola MD on Thursday evening. The lone Bearcat goal of the match came on a free kick that Reda appeared partially blinded on. The Flyer back line showed cracks at times but held the dam together for long stretches and showcased a resiliency under duress that could prove valuable as the non-con schedule moves forward. Most importantly, UD was opportunistic in the offense and while they did not saturate the Cincinnati goal box with great looks on frame (UD won SOG 7-4), they put away the looks they had and that couldn't be said for the opposition. Given how evenly-matched the teams were when digesting the entire 90 minutes of play, pocketing a 4-1 win as about as good as any player, coach, or fan could have realistically expected.

UD remains at home next weekend as the competition takes a step up with matches against Louisville on Thursday and Illinois on Sunday.

Hot shooting hides a multitude of sins.
"Yeah....220, 221, whatever it takes." - Jack Butler (Mr. Mom)
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