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WSOC: Dayton Blanks Akron 2-0
WSOC: Dayton Blanks Akron 2-0
Christopher Rieman
Published by Chris R
Smile WSOC: Dayton Blanks Akron 2-0

The Dayton Flyers women's soccer team finished the weekend with two victories after following up Thursday's excellent 2-1 road win at Butler with a 2-0 shutout of the Akron Zips on Sunday afternoon at Baujan Field. A goal in each half did the damage as UD improves to 6-1-1 while Akron falls to 1-2-2. The victory concludes the 2022 non-conference schedule.

Overcast skies and periodic drizzle made for less-than-perfect conditions, though the choking heat and humidity of summer finally surrendered to temperatures in the mid-70s. Flyer seniors were recognized before the match for their contributions to the program.

Facing their third MAC team of the season (tied Toledo, beat Kent State), Dayton hosted former Flyer star Jen Simonetti in her first season as head coach of the Zips after a successful stint at Case Western Reserve. The drizzle stayed away as the match kicked off and field conditions were good as UD established ball possession in the opening minutes and did their best to take charge.

Dayton tried to unleash Jess Sheldon on the left flank with either long-ball service or direct play to her feet, while the midfield linked combination passing as they moved forward in the attack. The opening 10 minutes created a handful of dangerous opportunities inside the Akron goal box -- either on crosses or mish-mash challenges just outside the 18yd line -- but there were no goals to be found. Dayton also earned a flurry of corner kicks as the first half continued, but finishing service from the flags remained highly problematic as it has over the last couple of seasons.

Despite the missed opportunities, UD dominated the run of play and that dictated the posture of the first 45 minutes as Akron spent energy attempting to dis-possess rather than develop attacks on their own. The Zips' best chances were on quick counters, though the Flyer back line cleaned them up well and kept goalkeeper Madelyn Dewey without a first half save to her credit. Buildup from the back was clean but quite deliberate and the lack of attacking pace and sense of urgency enabled Akron to keep enough numbers behind the ball to defend the gaps. The Flyers needed another gear.

Dayton finally found the back of the net in the 18th minute however when Yaiza Navarro Leon played a set piece into the box that Audrey Steiert one-timed with a karate-kick redirect that beat Zips goalkeeper Penelope Cuirinier from six yards out.

The 1-0 advantage took some pressure off the Flyers and afforded them an opportunity to settle in and focus on the fine details. As the last 25 minutes of the first half unfolded however, the rainy drizzle arrived and the fine details were rough around the edges. UD ultimately squandered several more quality scoring opportunities in the offensive third of the field that might have put the game out of reach before intermission. The closest opportunity came and went on a shot that hit the crossbar.

First half stats favored the Flyers in shots 12-2 and corner kicks 7-0 -- underscoring the dominant run of play but once again an inability to make those chances count.

The second half restart brought with it two possible scenarios: UD quickly doubling the lead to 2-0 and sucking the wind from Akron's sails, or mucking about, allowing the match to continue 1-0, and giving the Zips enough confidence to snag a late goal and subsequent point on the road.

To their credit, Akron nearly pulled that off and put forth a more competitive second half to keep things interesting. While Dayton continued to command overall possession and movement forward, the scoring opportunities -- though quite dangerous at times -- lacked the finishing touches to put the match effectively out of reach. Cuirinier came up big on a couple Flyer shots on frame to keep her team in the match -- one on a tip save over the crossbar and another on a kick-save at the near post. It was equal parts poor Flyer finishing however and by the 70th minute the match remained 1-0.

Akron's best chances to tie the game at 1-1 came in the final 20 minutes as they countered quickly after dis-possessing the Flyers or stealing poor clearances in the UD defensive third. Two great chances were squandered with a timely Flyer deflection and inability to commandeer a scrum for the ball and subsequent toe-poke past the Dayton goal line. They were the kind of scoring chances the Zips needed to convert as extended buildup from the back line to the forwards had trouble generating scoring opportunities for most of the contest.

The Flyers ended the suspense in the 86th minute when Mairin Wessner finished off a nice feed from Itala Gemelli inside the left portion of the goal box. The quick trigger by Wessner put Dayton up 2-0 with four minutes to play and iced the match.

Dayton outshot Akron 10-6 including 2-0 on corner kicks in the 2nd half, indicating a more competitive game after halftime. It was not UD's best performance in terms of care and consideration to executing in the final third of the pitch, but they did enough when they had to avoid the upset bid. While the offense had a case of the 'blehs' however, the Flyer back line pitched another shutout -- their fifth bagel in eight matches. By comparison, UD had seven in the entire 2021 season.

Dayton's non-conference schedule now completed, the Flyers open up A10 action on Thursday, Sept. 15 at Davidson.

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