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WSOC: Flyers Fall 2-0 to UMass on Senior Day
WSOC: Flyers Fall 2-0 to UMass on Senior Day
C.M. Rieman
Published by Chris R
Exclamation WSOC: Flyers Fall 2-0 to UMass on Senior Day

DAYTON (OH) -- The Dayton Flyers played UMass to a scoreless first half on Senior Day, but surrendered two 2nd half goals and generated little in the way of offense as they fell 2-0 and finish as the #8 seed in the upcoming A10 Tournament. Dayton ends the regular season at 8-8-2 (4-5-1). UMass improves their A10 Tourney credentials considerably as they earn the #5 seed and finish 11-5-1 (6-3-1). A Flyer win would have secured the #7 seed and knocked UMass to the #8 seed.

UD had a difficult time finding a rhythm for much of the game and that certainly applied to the opening minutes as well. While the Flyers created more free space at the start of the match than their opposition, they had trouble leveraging any of the real estate into honest goal-scoring opportunities.

Before long, UMass settled in and began taking control of the run-of-play, helped in part by longer moments of sustained possession in the central third. Able to work the ball on the ground and in tighter spaces, the Minutewomen did a nice job of transitioning from defense to offense without relying solely on the long ball out of their back line. Conversely, that was UD's only strategy that had any chance of success as the Flyer midfield continued to vanish into the Baujan Field topsoil unable to affect the match in a positive way.

Dayton's best scoring chances were along the touch lines toward the corner flags and as the 1st half continued, a handful of half-chances looked optimistic. The lack of speed in the final third however allowed the UMass back line to turn otherwise dangerous balls into routine clearaways or confident passes out of their own goal box.

Flyer GK Kaelyn Johns was slightly busier on the other end. While not inundated with shots on goal, she had to babysit several loose balls in the box that required knockaways in traffic to keep the match scoreless.

As the last 15 minutes of the half played out, the Flyers had greater difficulty linking passes together -- hampered by heads down and a lack of field vision to find teammates weak-side or play one-touch balls to friendly jerseys in tight spaces.

First half stats favored UD in shots 6-2 while corner kicks were 2-2. Despite the lack of ball control and reliance on the long ball out of the back line, Dayton could have been up 1-0 with better speed and tracking ability near the UMass goal box. A free kick off the crossbar from 25yds was UD's best scoring opportunity.

Unfortunately, the 2nd half was a step backward and what possession UD lacked in the first 45 minutes became even less in the next 45 as UMass raised their level of play and forced the Flyers into kick-and-run almost exclusively.

The Flyers were rushed in everything they tried to do. Space was at a premium. Touches of the ball were too numerous for the conditions. As the 2nd half continued, the Minutewomen began seizing firm control and establishing themselves as the more talented side. To UD's credit, they hung in there and managed to keep the match scoreless until the 68th minute. A UMass counter-attack along the left flank forced Johns to save the back line's bacon, but a low shot to the far post found netting and put the opposition up 1-0.

Dayton tried their best to find an equalizer over the next 15 minutes of play, but most chances were half-chances at best -- overly optimistic long balls with little sense of direction or purpose. The lack of speed in the attack once again extinguished most scoring opportunities as no one had the legs to run down a loose ball in the offensive third and making something happen. The Flyers couldn't turn a single deep ball to the baseline all afternoon.

UMass capitalized on a defensive miscue in the 83rd minute, dis-possessing a Flyer defender near the top of the goal box and firing a shot top-shelf that beat Johns under the crossbar. Up 2-0, the match was over.

The 14-3 shot advantage in the 2nd half underscored UD's struggle over the final 45 minutes to generate meaningful possession or offensive punch. Back on their heels, Dayton looked like a team fighting to survive rather than fighting to win. They wore down a bit and natural ability began differentiating the two sides. To UMass' credit, they played hard and had were more accomplished with the ball at their feet -- they deserved the victory and in a rematch would be solid favorites again.

On a day with few bright spots, Nadia Pestell may have been the lone player worth singling out. Asked to do more than her fair share both offensively and defensively, Pestell did her best to maintain organization along the left side of the back line while also moving forward for overlaps whenever she could. Her teammates had trouble feeding her quality service however and no one was home on her crosses inside the UMass goal box. She needed help and for the most part didn't get it, and as a back line player can only do so much to affect both sides of the ball to consistently alter outcomes.

Dayton still secures a bid to the A10 Tournament as the #8 seed and will play #1 Saint Louis next weekend at Hermann Stadium in the Quarterfinals. The Billikens finished the A10 season undefeated at 10-0 and will be the overwhelming favorites. While the Flyer upset odds are not Powerball-esque, the Bills must mail it in while Dayton plays the match of their lives for things to end favorably for Head Coach Eric Golz. The winner returns to Baujan Field however for the A10 Semifinals (and Finals) -- if that's not motivation enough for UD to play one more match at home and redeem their lackluster Senior Day result, few incentives are.

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

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