By: James Dronzek – Staff Writer
The Liberty University Flames handed the Dayton Flyers a loss in the final game of the 2017 Dayton Flyer Classic on Sunday, narrowly winning by a score of 1-0.
Liberty (3-1-1) got their lone goal on a shot in the box by junior forward Tresor Mbuyu in the 32nd minute. Dayton (2-2-2) had trouble finding that type of production in this matchup.
“I think the disappointment is that we have a lot of good attacking players and we missed a lot of easy chances,” said Flyers’ Head Coach Dennis Currier.
In other ✈️ news…Hagenkord and Thor Lead Late Push To Beat Central Arkansas
This lack of offensive production has been a usual problem for the Flyers in this early stage of the season, as they have been held to a goal or fewer in four of their six games this season.
“I thought defensively, we’re doing well in terms of only allowing one goal, but you’re not going to win if you don’t score any goals,” said Currier. “Some of the shots we missed today were just due to inaccuracy, and that’s something we have to continue to work on.”
Dayton took 26 shots in the game, but this only resulted in five shots on goal.
Part of the reason that Liberty was able to shut out Dayton was their tough defense inside. For the past few games, the Flyers have been relying on the 6-foot 7-inch freshman midfielder, Thor Helgason, to use his height to make plays inside. However, the Flames played a physical inside defense to limit Helgason’s abilities and affect the Dayton offense as a whole.
While Currier’s offense was limited, there were some bright spots, including a display of dribble moves by freshman midfielder Jonas Fjeldberg that gave way to a missed inside shot and a pair of downfield passes by senior defender Lance Gaspar that nearly resulted in goals. In fact, Dayton was able to dominate possession time for most of the game and frequently seemed to be the more skilled team offensively.
This was even true when the Flyers veered from their typical offensive strategy of driving up the wings and looking for a cross. Senior midfielder Alvaro Navarro carved out space for himself in the middle of the field, and multiple times even came close to tying the game.
“They just allowed me to take ten shots, or something like that, and I was able to get some chances on the inside,” said Navarro.
While the Liberty offense lacked creativity and had a tough time finding shot opportunities, the times when they did fire away resulted in quality shots. Despite statistical disadvantages in the shots and corner kicks categories (26-10 and 5-0, respectively), the Flames won the shots on goal battle 7-5.
Mbuyu was a catalyst for Liberty’s offensive attack, using his speed to put three shots on goal, including the game’s only score. Their junior midfielder, Kevin Mendoza, assisted on the goal, had his own shot on goal, and played well offensively to help the cause.
Dayton was able to maintain their one goal allowed per game average, as the defense controlled the middle of the field and only allowed seven shots on goal, six of which were saved by sophomore goalkeeper Federico Barrios.
Currier will look to work with the offense to make needed improvements before a tough stretch of games to round out September, including matches against Western Michigan University (5-0-1) and West Virginia University (3-0-2).
Photo by Steve Miller/Sports Editor