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MSOC: #17 Dayton Outshoots Eastern Illinois 51-2, Wins 2-0
MSOC: #17 Dayton Outshoots Eastern Illinois 51-2, Wins 2-0
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile MSOC: #17 Dayton Outshoots Eastern Illinois 51-2, Wins 2-0

The #17-ranked Dayton Flyers men's soccer team did everything right but put the ball in the net, but even with those struggles and bouts of bad luck, they still topped Eastern Illinois 2-0 to remain unblemished at 5-0-0 on the season. Two second-half goals did the damage as UD outshot EIU by a staggering 51-2 margin over 90 minutes. The Panthers fall to 1-3-1.

Cooler mid-September conditions at Baujan Field made things comfortable for fans and players as the match experienced a momentary spritz of drizzle during the national anthem but otherwise remained dry. The Flyers -- up one spot this week in the United Soccer Coaches Poll -- looked to justify that national ranking and left no doubt in the opening minutes of the match. Once the whistle blew, UD took control and dominated.

Dayton's recipe for success started with an extremely high work rate that gobbled up loose balls and allowed the home team to counter-attack quickly and with a numbers advantage in the offensive half of the field. More than that however, UD was unpredictable and split time between triangle passing in the center alley and forward service down the touch lines. The variety of offense kept Eastern Illinois guessing and also forced the Panthers to honor the entire width of the pitch as they defended in space.

The Flyers had many great scoring opportunities in the opening 10 minutes -- some on dangerous in-swinging service in the box and at other times just shooting directly on goal -- but it would ultimately be a match where bad luck and some extraordinary goalkeeping by EIU's Chad Smith kept things interesting -- at least on the scoreboard.

The Panthers were forced to chase the ball in the entire first half as UD gobbled up possession and did a great job of making runs off the ball to open up service and exploit the gaps. There was always space to maneuver and before long UD was peppering shots from everywhere. Many on frame, some not, and another pair hitting the goalpost to keep EIU from getting steamrolled. A later opportunity was even cleared off the goal line.

At times it almost turned comical at how close the Flyers came to scoring. The Panthers were holding on by the tips of their fingernails but it was just enough to (remarkably) keep the match scoreless as halftime approached.

The Flyers outshot EIU 20-0 including a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks. The stats were an accurate reflection of the run of play but it was more about how good the Flyers were and how good EIU's goalkeeping was.

UD looked for a goal early in the second half to blow the lid off the scoreboard and justify all the hard work they invested over the first 45 minutes. A goal would also prevent EIU from gaining some confidence and believing they could pull off a miracle as the match soldiered on.

Time and again UD pummeled EIU's defensive third with give-and-go's, diagonal service from inside-out, and overlaps to the corner flags. The latter effort proved to be the most dominating of them all; the Flyers were elite all night in that regard and constantly surged behind the outside defenders with booming sprints angling into the box on back door service.

As good as UD was in the field of play however, it took a whistle in the box to produce Dayton's first goal of the night. Clearly taken down after beating the last defender, the referee pointed to the spot and Forster Ajago polished off the PK to put the Flyers ahead 1-0 in the 65th minute. It was a long wait for that first goal but it took considerable pressure off the match and afforded UD some wiggle room over the last 25 minutes.

EIU's only legitimate scoring chances came on a handful of corner kicks and a couple rare open-field counter-attacks from midfield. They were half-chances at best and UD's back line was terrific with both pursuit and tackling to turn away those few opportunities and prevent the Panthers from scoring a cheap goal and tying the match at 1-1.

On the other end, Dayton kept the foot on the gas pedal and never let up. Scoring chances, crosses in the box both near and far post, as well as numerous shots on frame forced EIU to snuff out trouble every 30-60 seconds. It was a relentless pace and attacking posture by the Flyers and were it not for some of the best goalkeeping heroics fans at Baujan Field have seen in years, the match could have easily been 5-0 or 6-0 heading into the final 10 minutes of play. It wasn't just one or two Flyers that proved dangerous -- it was a collective assault with weapons coming from all positions.

Still 1-0 however, another goal would certainly ice the game and Andy Sanchez hit the back of the net with a far-post shot in the 87th minute to make it 2-0 and stick a fork in things.

UD outshot EIU by a whopping 31-2 in the second half, including 6-1 on corner kicks. For the match, shots were 51-2 and shots on goal 15-0 -- numbers rarely seen at any level of soccer.

While UD had trouble finishing some of their easier chances, they probably should have scored on other more ambitious ones. Several shots hit the woodwork and any other night with any other goalkeeper and a couple more goals would have found the back of the net. The Flyers justified their national ranking in spades and did so with an extremely fast pace of play as well as numerous moments of individual dynamism that broke down EIU defenders in 1v1 situations. Whether teaming up or working individually, UD was practically unstoppable. It was also smart soccer with great overlaps, good communication, well-timed weak-side switching, and strong physical challenges in those loose-ball moments.

Dayton remains at home for the A10 opener on Saturday September 17th against Saint Joseph's (PA).

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