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UD MSOC Comeback Tranquilizes UCA Bears 2-1
UD MSOC Comeback Tranquilizes UCA Bears 2-1
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile UD MSOC Comeback Tranquilizes UCA Bears 2-1

The Dayton Flyers needed a big second half and got it. Down 1-0 at halftime from a Univ. Central Arkansas PK, UD scored twice in the last 12 minutes of the match to top the Bears 2-1 on Friday evening at Baujan Field. A UCA own-goal credited to Nick Hagenkord tied things up and Thor Helgason finished the Bears off with under five minutes remaining. Dayton improves to 2-1-2 while Central Arkansas remains winless at 0-5-0.

The match was a tale of two halfs in some respects. Over the first 20 minutes, the overall run of play was fairly even as both sides spent time in the offensive half of the field trying to find open space with numbers pushing forward. The counter-punching made for a fun match to watch, although execution near the goal boxes was ineffective when terrific scoring chances developed. Credit to both back lines for keeping their shape.

Creating clean open shots proved difficult for each team, relegating the scoring opportunities to half chances when bottled up by opposing defenders. Dayton had more dangerous scoring chances, but they couldn't shake some persistent bad luck as several great shots on frame were blocked by UCA defenders standing in the right place at the right time -- or even more frustrating -- clearing balls off their own goal line.

The match changed in the 29th minute when a Bear player was tripped in the box despite being off-the-ball. His run toward the bounce was deemed relevant enough to point to the spot however and UCA polished off the PK to make it 1-0. As PK whistles go, it was an unconventional and somewhat unlucky circumstance for the Flyers, but probably the correct call.

With work to do, Dayton got after it. But UCA didn't roll over for the remaining 15 minutes of the first half. UD's best scoring chances came on corner kicks and set pieces just inside midfield. Despite placing numerous balls in the box and targeting the head of 6-7 forward Thor Helgason, the Bears did just enough to nurse the 1-0 lead into halftime.

First half shots and corner kicks favored UD 9-4 and 4-1 respectively.

It took about 20 minutes of play in the second half to change the trajectory of the match, but that's what happened as the Flyers slowly but steadily generated more possession and more frequent scoring chances inside the UCA goal box. The overwhelming reason for the surge in run-of-play came from a terrific work ethic all over the field. While the Bears seemed to wear down and lose some fitness, the Flyers never lost a step. As the second half continued, UCA continued to lose a grip on the game and before long about 85% of the meaningful possession favored Head Coach Dennis Currier's squad.

Stuck in a defensive bunker and unable to relieve pressure, UCA focused most of their attention on clearing balls away with few targets awaiting. UD took advantage and re-gathered possession, resulting in additional dangerous balls in the box and a handful of corner kicks. At some point the UCA bubble had to burst, but time was starting to run short and the Bears had just 15 minutes left to stay above water.

The bubble let go in the 79th minute when UCA attempted a back-pass header to their goalkeeper but mis-timed the play as the keeper came forward and the ball sailed over his head toward an empty net. Nick Hagenkord kicked it in from 2yds out to remove any suspense, but the gaff was headed for an open-net own-goal regardless.

Now 1-1 with about 10 minutes left in regulation, the Flyers turned the dial up to 'broil' and inundated UCA with relentless pressure in the offensive third. It seemed nearly impossible for the Bears to withstand such an onslaught without surrendering another goal and those impressions proved spot-on in the 86th minute when Thor Helgason one-timed a half-volley thanks to a Lance Gaspar cross from the right side. The nifty touch scooted past the UCA goalkeeper to make it 2-1 and more or less shut the door on the match. The Bears only threatened a couple times in the second half and when they did Flyer GK Federico Barrios was where he needed to be.

Second half stats underscored the Flyer domination as shots were 14-3 and corner kicks 6-0. Given the number of near-goals and UCA clears off the goal line, it may have been a walk in the park on any other day. But Central Arkansas played the Flyers relatively even for 45 minutes and made the most of their 1st half goal -- they just didn't have enough horses in the stable to hold on to the lead and salt the match away.

As victories go, it was a result the team can build confidence from. Fitness and hustle continues to be very good no matter the result and if the work ethic remains over the course of the season, that alone will keep UD in some matches. That said, Central Arkansas might not win 5-6 games in 2017 and has no conference or postseason success in their future. Dayton remains a work-in-progress and lower-level opponents still find success against the Flyers for extended stretches. More consistency and maturation of roles and responsibilities will continue to move UD in the right direction. For now, every opponent on the schedule is still a tossup.

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

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