Elbustu (pictured heading the ball against Incarnate Word Sept. 4) scored his second goal for the Flyers on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to get a key point (or points) against the Bonnies. Photo courtesy of UD Athletics.
Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor
In a crucial game for the Atlantic 10 men’s soccer tournament race, the Dayton Flyers fell 2-1 to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies Saturday night at Baujan Field.
Before the game, the Flyers recognized the 1991 team and held a moment of silence in memory of Jason Jamieson, who died in August.
After the game, Flyers head coach Dennis Currier called his team’s performance “disappointing.”
“I thought we came out a little flat tonight, possession-wise we looked alright, but (the Bonnies) plan was to sit in and counter, and they did a really good job at that,” Currier said. “They got two good goals off that and one of our mistakes.”
In the first 30 minutes of the game, only one shot was taken, and no real chances developed for either team. Senior attacking midfielder Kingsford Adjei’s shot in the 30th minute was the first shot on goal, but was saved easily by Bonnies goalkeeper Trevor Wilson.
Two minutes later, Flyers sophomore goalkeeper Marc Kouadio made a diving save on a shot by Matthew Wrobel. But after 10 minutes of fairly even play, a mistake in the back of the Flyers’ defense led to a one-on-one with Kouadio for Umechi Akuazaoku, who navigated around Kouadio and passed a shot right down the middle into the back of the net.
Halftime arrived with the Flyers in a 1-0 hole, even while leading possession 56-44 percent, and shots 6-4.
In the 56th minute, Hunter Allenbaugh assisted Wrobel, who lifted a shot arching over Kouadio and into the top right corner of the net to extend the Bonnies’ lead to 2-0.
The game slowly became more physical, with two Flyers (senior midfielder Pape Gueye and junior defender Jaden Jones-Riley) going down for extended time and requiring treatment. However, it boiled over in the 79th minute, when Adjei retaliated against a Bonnies player by shoving him, and was shown a red card. Adjei was suspended for one game and will miss the Flyers senior day against Duquesne next Saturday.
When down to ten men, the Flyers came alive, constantly applying pressure to the Bonnies defense. On one shot in the 81st minute, the Bonnies were called for a handball in the penalty box. Senior forward Eren Elbustu stepped up and passed a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal as Wilson dove the opposite direction, and the Flyers were given a lifeline with just under ten minutes left.
There were hectic final moments with 2 corner kicks taken in the final 20 seconds and several shots blocked from going into the net, but Dayton couldn’t score and dropped a key A-10 battle against St. Bonaventure.
Currently in 10th place with 7 points and behind St. Bonaventure and UMass, the Flyers need to beat Duquesne next Saturday (kickoff at 7 p.m.), and need the Bonnies to lose to George Washington (7 points in A-10 play) and the Minutemen to lose or draw against VCU (12 points). The Flyers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Minutemen because of a 4-2 win Oct. 2.
“We haven’t been playing with confidence,” Currier said. “We’ve had just a lot of mistakes this year, and this week we’ve got to build up and try to put something together on Saturday, but ultimately, you’re never out of it just because there’s still a traffic jam that happens in the A-10. And you got to give it everything you got in the last weekend. We’ve got Senior Night coming up, and hopefully we can throw some motivation out there and get on the front foot early and find that early goal. I think we’re chasing games too many times and you know it’s been a disappointing season to be honest with you.”
A disappointing season can still end with a trip to the A-10 Tournament, but the Flyers will need their best performance without one of their best players against a team ahead of them in the standings, and will also need help from other teams.