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Flyers Beat Fordham 3-1; Remain Perfect in A10
Flyers Beat Fordham 3-1; Remain Perfect in A10
Christopher M Rieman
Published by Chris R
Flyers Beat Fordham 3-1; Remain Perfect in A10

DAYTON (OH) -- The Dayton Flyers women's soccer team spotted Fordham a first half lead, but rallied back in the second half to up-end the Rams 3-1 and remain in sole possession of first place in the A10 with just two league matches left on the season. UD improves to 11-4-1 (6-0-0) and is unbeaten in their last 10 games. Fordham falls to 4-9-3 (2-4-1).

Playing their last match of the season at Baujan Field, the Flyers were tasked with continuing their winning ways and protecting the top spot in the A10 standings. The soccer that followed the opening kickoff however lacked a competitive Flyer spirit, a condition that plagued the first 45 minutes of play.

Playing timid and unable to leverage their distinct natural talent advantage against the Rams, Dayton victimized themselves by being a step slow in most areas of the pitch. Suffering from happy feet, UD spent much of the half taking five or six touches of the ball when one- and two-touch passing would have overwhelmed Fordham and forced them to defend players running at their goal box. Instead, the run of play was slow and lacked cohesion. While Dayton had more possession, not nearly enough quality scoring opportunities materialized, in part due to an inability to win enough 50/50 challenges when it mattered.

Fordham was content to keep the play in front of their back line and defend in space, choosing to counter-attack when the space opened up in the middle third of the field. Poor Flyer touches led to numerous turnovers and while the Rams did not possess a juggernaut offense, the loss of possession was frustrating enough to keep the Flyers from finding their rhythm. Those turnovers eventually led to Fordham shots.

The Rams converted their best scoring chance of the first half when they played a ball to the top of the Flyer box, forcing the UD defenders to chase. Goalkeeper Elizabeth James came out to challenge the high ball, but missed the punch-out and the ball squirted past. Fordham knocked it home to take the 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute.

After a half of soccer, stats were comparable with shots at seven a piece, while Fordham topped the Flyers in corner kicks 3-0.

The Flyers needed a better work rate in the second half or the rest of the product would fail to improve. It took about 5 minutes to turn things around, but Dayton slowly took charge with a better effort to loose balls and a more assertive commitment to challenge scoring opportunities in the Ram goal box. Nicole Waters, one of the few bright spots of the first half, elevated her game in the final 45 minutes and when the UD offense funneled through her feet, the Flyers played their best soccer. Turning defenders with the dribble and pushing balls weak-side to teammates near the touch lines, Waters' gritty work ethic was eventually embraced by others. Juliana Libertin played along right flank, attempting to soften up defenders to allow for others to fill in. UD also did a better job of stepping up from the back line to win loose balls and maintain an attacking posture.

Ashley Campbell, mostly ineffective in the first half, re-dedicated herself after the re-start and challenged a ball deep in Fordham territory, winning possession from the Ram goalkeeper and slotting a tough-angled shot to an empty net to tie the match at 1-1 in the 51st minute.

The goal settled the Flyers down and removed some pressure to perform. The offense opened things up even further by getting forward with space in the midfield. Several great scoring chances in the box resulted in excellent shots on goal, but the Fordham goalkeeping was timely and effective to make the difficult saves.

Dayton took the lead in the 74th minute when Ashley Campbell attempted to wind up for a shot just inside the box. Nudged off the ball during the wind-up, the head referee thought the push was egregious enough to point to the penalty spot for a Flyer PK. Libertin polished things off for the 2-1 lead, benefiting from an official's whistle that was within the letter of the law, but probably not the spirit -- at least inside the goal box.

That said, Dayton made their own luck with a better work rate and when hustle shines through, good things tend to happen. UD had several other chances to add a third goal and put the game out of reach, but the Ram defense held tight and did just enough to turn away challenges and send balls up field to their own strikers. Dayton needed a few timely clears or saves to preserve the 2-1 lead as the game opened up in the midfield.

The back-breaker came in the 88th minute when Waters slotted a flick through the Ram back line as Libertin timed it perfectly and made her break while staying onside. Running free behind the last defender, Libertin chased the ball down and juked the goalkeeper for the open-net finish and the 3-1 Dayton advantage.

Dayton out-shot Fordham 13-4 in the second half, including 4-0 on corner kicks. Top to bottom, it was a much better performance over the final half after one of the most inept first 45 minutes of the season. Players dug in and won more loose balls, threw their weight around, and manufactured good fortune. While the individual skill levels of UD players were far and away more talented than Fordham, much of that was negated by a lackluster effort until Dayton decided to get serious.

In spite of the up-and-down play overall, Waters had one of her best matches of the season and is looking like the surest thing to an A10 First Team midfielder. Megan Herr came in for second half duty and gave the UD defense some much-needed toughness and ball-winning. Up top, Libertin did her usual marathon running.

The Flyers have two matches remaining, taking on LaSalle next Friday, followed by St. Joseph's on Sunday. Both matches are on the road.

Hot shooting hides a multitude of sins.
Make everyone else's "one day" your "day one".
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