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Flyers Bounced from A10 Tourney in PKs
Flyers Bounced from A10 Tourney in PKs
Christopher M Rieman
Published by Chris R
Exclamation Flyers Bounced from A10 Tourney in PKs

DAYTON (OH) -- The Dayton Flyers had plenty of scoring chances, but couldn't find the back of the net in regulation and a pair of overtimes, resulting in a heartbreaking penalty-kick shootout loss to LaSalle in the A10 Tourney Quarterfinals at Baujan Field. Tied at 1-1 after 110 minutes, the Explorers topped the Flyers 3-2 in the shootout to advance to the semifinals and a match-up with top-seeded St. Louis. Dayton's season ends at 14-2-3.

Fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind victory at LaSalle on November 3rd and riding a three-game winning streak heading into the A10 Tourney, the Flyers were playing some of their best soccer of the season. As things kicked off in the final match of a quadruple-header at Baujan Field, the chilly nighttime air also cooled down the scoring for both teams over the next two hours of play.

Both sides took turns attempting to establish a firm grip on the match, but the run-of-play swung back and forth without either side commanding possession of the ball. Counter-attacks proved to be the best chances for both teams as balls played down the touch lines or over the top of the central defense forced the back lines to defend in space.

Dayton had a couple early chances inside the LaSalle box, but crosses into the mixer never found the head or feet of Flyer teammates. Explorer goalkeeper John McCarthy -- a 1st team All-A10 selection earlier in the week -- was commanding inside his box and picked off most high balls with solid hands and good instincts.

The Flyers would end up making the first mistake of the match and it cost them a goal in the 14th minute. The UD defense played a ball back to GK Chris Froschauer, but the always sure-footed player fell victim to a bad bounce on the chewed-up Baujan Field surface as he attempted a one-touch clear. The ball scooted behind him and LaSalle pounced on the open-net chance to go up 1-0.

Over the last 30 minutes of the half, the Flyers showed better form and had several moments of sustained play that pushed the ball forward for chances inside the box. The best chances came on crosses, but at times UD also elected to challenge the goal from distance that were either off target or highly ambitious against a goalkeeper a strong as McCarthy.

UD's persistence paid off when they tied the match at 1-1 in the 33rd minute after beating a LaSalle defender and turning the baseline corner. After playing a cross back to the six-yard line, Amass Amankona's shot bounced around among players directly in front of the box. Greg Enstone punched it in from point-blank range to score his 10th goal of the season.

Halftime stats favored UD in shots 9-4 while corner kicks were 2-2.

Dayton's best soccer of the match came in the second half where they sustained pressure in the offensive half of the field for long stretches. The best movement came on the flanks where target passing to forwards or overlaps from the midfielders running into space forced the LaSalle back line to chase in transition. UD played a number of balls in the box -- to the near and far posts -- but McCarthy picked off most of the dangerous chances in the air. The lower-struck balls beyond the six-yard box proved most dangerous and as balls bounced in the mixer, Dayton was just a toe-poke away from taking the lead.

At times, Dayton dominated the half on offense. LaSalle had a few counter-attacks, but they were infrequent and largely ineffective. Defender Christopher Lenning was outstanding all night in the Flyer central defense, winning balls in space or after brilliant one-on-one defending. John Howe, Jonathan Nelson, and Bastien Allheily also did well to snuff out dangerous balls in their defensive zones.

The shots continued to pile up for the Flyers, but UD couldn't get clean looks at the net -- a credit to LaSalle's back line for being stingy and persistent. A final flurry at the end of regulation nearly paid off, but after 90 minutes the match remained deadlocked at 1-1.

Second half shots were dominated by the Flyers 19-7. Corner kicks were also in UD's favor 4-2.

Two sudden-victory overtimes played out rather evenly with LaSalle earning a 5-3 advantage in shots, while UD attempted the lone corner kick. Players for both sides appeared to fatigue a bit as the game soldiered on into extra time -- the Flyers substituted just twice all evening. With no goals to settle the match in the run of play, things would ultimately be settled in a penalty-kick shootout.

McCarthy came up with the first big save after a brilliant one-handed deflection of an otherwise well-struck Eddie Jones PK attempt. From there, the Flyers quickly fell behind by two PKs, but cut the deficit to one shortly thereafter when LaSalle booted an attempt over the goalpost. LaSalle moved on to the A10 semifinals when the Flyers reached 'must-make' mode and failed to convert in the final round, losing 3-2 on PKs.

UD deserved to win based on the run-of-play and had far more quality scoring chances on offense, out-shooting LaSalle 31-16 for the match -- including 13-5 on frame. The lone Explorer goal was a soft one helped in part by a bit of good fortune from a favorable bounce. It was a tough ending to not only a solid night's effort but also a successful 2013 record of 14-2-3 that will ultimately come up short for NCAA at-large consideration. The Flyers were probably two wins or a win and a tie away from being inside the NCAA bubble, a thin margin we outlined in the preseason based on the weak schedule.

The Flyers lose several seniors to graduation but are still one of the younger programs in the A10 with several starters returning next year -- including a deep bench that might be called upon to contribute more and more often.

Hot shooting hides a multitude of sins.
Make everyone else's "one day" your "day one".
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By Chris R on 11-15-2013, 01:57 PM
Fixed goal # for Enstone. Had first goal instead of 10th. Forgot a zero!
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