The setting at Baujan Field was brilliantly set with clear, sunny skies on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Peter Burtnett, Flyer News.
Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor
A golden goal in the second overtime proved to be the difference between the Dayton Flyers and Davidson Wildcats women’s soccer teams Sunday in a 1-0 win for the host Flyers at Baujan Field.
An uneventful first half ended 0-0, with both teams getting one shot on goal, but neither shot troubling either goalkeeper. The Flyers led corner kicks 4-1.
“Not a great performance,” said assistant head coach Dean Ward, coaching in place of head coach Eric Golz, who received a red card in the Flyers’ last match. “Overall, I think (the) first half was poor performance, was kind of lacking in some urgency and put us in a difficult spot.”
At halftime, the Flyers partnered with Helinski’s Hope Foundation to recognize Mental Health Week in college sports, and wore green headbands or pins throughout the game. The Flyers also recognized several alumni and a pair of former coaches.
After a hectic sequence with a pair of shots on goal but no score for the Flyers in the 48th minute, the game slowed down again.
“There (were) just a lot of people in their half of the field,” junior attacking midfielder Marlee Taylor said. “We were trying to push it a little too much and play too direct. But at half we kind of talked about just moving the ball around, getting them out, make them chase and work and as they get drawn out try and go to goal.”
By the end of 90 minutes played, the Flyers led corner kicks taken 10-1 and shots on goal 8-1.
In the first half of overtime, the play mirrored the first half of regulation, with the only incidents being a yellow card issued to junior forward Laney Huber, and one for Wildcats sophomore midfielder Riley Patton.
The break-through finally happened when junior winger Jessica Sheldon sped down the left flank, fired a cross into the box, and found Taylor, who volleyed the ball and lofted it over the goalkeeper’s head to give the Flyers a 1-0 win.
“We know whenever we can get some width, and we can get balls into the box we’ve got a chance,” Ward said. “And obviously Jess puts herself in those positions by running by players a lot. I think the part we were missing in the first half was bodies in the box in front of the goal. I think Marlee did a great job just to get in front of the goal, and whether she meant to finish like that is in question, but every goal is a good goal. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score.”
The winning goal scorer was equally happy to score and finish the game after nearly 110 minutes played.
“It felt so good,” Taylor said. “I was so ready to stop running around out there, I think, as a team we kept pushing. I think we should have scored a lot of goals but it’s fine. We got the W either way.”
With two wins in a row after six winless matches, Ward said it gives the team the confidence they need.
“It’s huge for confidence. Any win is a good win and it makes the atmosphere feel a little bit easier, and everyone’s happy, but also the losses that we did have put us in good stead for the future. And then we played against some good teams in that (winless stretch)…. We’re going to have some difficult games in the A-10, so that experience will help us in the long term.”
Sunday’s game also saw the return of junior midfielder Alexis Goins, who had been out with injuries since the end of the 2019 season, during which she led the team with 10 goal contributions (7 goals and 3 assists). For Taylor, she already “made such an impact,” and Ward said it was “huge” to get her back playing with the team.
“She has been working so hard off the field for a long period of time and I’m really happy for her to get on the field and I think her quality shone through as well where she was able to pick some different types of passes, or have some quality on the ball, some timing of runs into the box. She may be missing some fitness, but she doesn’t lack any quality. She’s a special player so it’s good to have her back, and hopefully continue to add more minutes as we go along the season.”
With Goins back and the team back to winning, the Flyers move on to face St. Joseph’s on the road Thursday before returning home to face George Mason Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.