Senior midfielder Jonas Fjeldberg, a second round draft pick by FC Cincinnati in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, scored 2 goals and assisted 2 more in the Flyers’ 5-1 senior day win over Duquesne on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Flyer News.
Facing Duquesne on Saturday at Baujan Field, the Flyers men’s soccer celebrated senior day with a dominant 5-1 win, even while being down to 10 men for the entire second half.
“It’s always special out here on Baujan,” senior midfielder Jonas Fjeldberg said. “Last game, it’s kind of sad, but I think we pulled off a great win, especially down to 10 men big parts of the game. I’m proud of the guys.”
In the previous match-up this season, the Flyers used four second-half goals to beat the Dukes 4-2 on March 17 in Pittsburgh. Going into this game, the Flyers were coming off a thrilling 1-0 win in double overtime against Saint Louis last Sunday.
Before the game started, the Flyers recognized seniors Fjeldberg, Wariebi Jituboh and Jack Steele, and each player was given framed pictures by head coach Dennis Currier.
“We always try to make it tradition that Senior Day is very special, and it’s normally with a win,” Currier said. “And I think actually having our seniors make a difference in the game, so it’s an honor to them. They’ve put their hard work in here for four years, and have been part of this program and building this program.”
Currier also praised Fjeldberg for being a “very special senior,” drafted by FC Cincinnati, and his goals and assists. Currier also mentioned Fjeldberg being one of sixty candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, given to an NCAA Divsion I student-athlete who displays excellence in community, classroom, character and competition.
Back to the game itself, the first 36 minutes of the first half were characterized by fairly open play, with plenty of missed opportunities for both teams. At the half-hour mark, the Flyers had 9 shots to the Dukes’ 6, but just 5 and 1 of those shots for each team were on goal.
But in the 37th minute, a shot by Fjeldberg was saved and pushed back out. The ball fell to junior midfielder Jake Feiner, who fired a strong shot into the back of the net to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
After that, things got chippy. In the 39th minute in the near right corner, sophomore midfielder Seth Antwi kicked a Duquesne player to try to get the ball away twice while the Dukes player was down. Antwi was shown a red card and sent off.
Four minutes later, sophomore midfielder Andy Sanchez was shown a yellow card for a hard sliding tackle, and the Dayton bench was given a yellow card warning as well for arguing the call (and perhaps the red card earlier too).
The Flyers saw out the rest of the half, and led the game 1-0. Also leading shots 13-7 and shots on goal 8-1, the Flyers were still in control of the game, but would need to see out the next 45 minutes down to 10 men.
Even down to 10 men, the Flyers were able to create a bigger advantage just two minutes into the second half. Freshman defender Geni Kanyane’s free kick was misjudged by the Duquesne goalkeeper, who tried to punch the ball out but missed. Junior defender Elias Harryson was there and headed the ball into the net, and the Flyers, though shorthanded, led 2-0. All of the Flyers in-field players ran over towards the bench to celebrate the goal.
The Dukes were quick to pull a goal back, scoring in the 55th minute. Senior forward Jack Shearer got a chance in front of goal and didn’t miss, putting the ball in the back of the net to cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1.
After that, though, it was all Flyers. First, a near-miss by Feiner came after another Fjeldberg shot was saved and pushed to the right of the penalty box. Feiner hit the right post, keeping the score at 2-1 in the 67th minute.
Four minutes later, a cross from sophomore winger Bryce Glisson found Fjeldberg after a slight deflection. Fjeldberg settled the ball, and fired a shot into the back of the net to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead.
A solo effort goal by Fjeldberg gave him his second of the day in the 78th minute. Taking the ball around midfield, Fjeldberg made a stepover move around a defender, and was flanked by junior forward Kingsford Adjei and just one Duquesne defender. His shot went bottom left, and the Flyers extended their lead to 4-1.
Within the next minute, the Flyers scored again. This time, Fjeldberg had a slight opening from 18 yards out, but passed the ball to Adjei, who calmly passed the ball into the bottom right corner to put the game away.
“Kingsford, he’s a guy I can trust,” Fjeldberg said. “Me and him have exchanged a lot of goals and assists last season and this season. I’m not gonna hit (the ball) with my left (foot) from 18 yards when I see Kings inside the box.”
After the game, Currier said the overall response to the red card was “really good.”
“To score four more goals, I think that being a man down, the response was really good. We knew if we win this game, we’re playing for the final of this pod (A-10) division.
“I thought the first half we looked really good, and then once we got the red card, the game really changes from there. But we’re very good on the transition, and it was just kind of finding the outlets of Kingsford and Jonas, and then we were able to start rolling in some goals there.”
Currier added it was a “great win” and showed a lot of grit, and he was proud of the team.
The Flyers saw out the rest of the game for a 5-1 win, and Jituboh was subbed on with about nine minutes remaining. With the win, the Flyers improve to 3-3-1 and 3-1-1 in A-10 play, and build their unbeaten run to 4 games.
“Two goals, two assists is always great individually, but I see 11 guys fighting, 10 guys for most of the game,” Fjeldberg said. “You know, (it’s) just a brotherhood that I’m really sad to be leaving, but I’m just really proud of the guys, especially as a captain, to see what we’ve been able to accomplish over this season… I feel like we’re just now getting going, which is really good to see.”
Fjeldberg said he’s always looking forward in time, but looking back is grateful for the time he’s had, the game’s he’s played, the fans who have cheered him and the coaches who have “been here for me and brought me here.”
“I don’t really want to think about it right now, but hopefully it’s in our hands to host (the A-10 championships) at home, so hopefully we can do that.”
Next up, the Flyers will travel to New York to face St. Bonaventure next Saturday at 3 p.m. As the Flyers’ form improves, he says the team faces a tough test against the Bonnies.
“I feel like annually, we get better as the season goes on,” Currier said. “I’d rather get a better start out of the gate, but I told (the players) before the game, this is where we’re at our best, toward the end of the season… A lot is on the line for all these teams, here in the last week. With that being said, we put ourselves in an opportunity where we can control our destiny, and that’s where we wanted to be.
“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster this season, some slow starts, but I think we are playing our best soccer here at the right moment, and hopefully we can perform well going on the road.”