Women’s soccer wins exhibition match 3-1 over Akron

Jessica Sheldon (#17, picture from Sept. 1, 2019) provided a cross from the left wing to set up the Flyers’ first goal of Thursday’s game. Photo courtesy of Christian Cubacub, Flyer News.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

The Dayton Flyers women’s soccer team scored three first-half goals to cruise to a 3-1 win over Akron in an exhibition match Thursday.

The first 18 minutes of the game were well-balanced, with both teams content to keep possession. However, in the 19th minute, a cross from the left wing by sophomore midfielder Jessica Sheldon found senior defender Kara Camarco, who fired a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner. 

“We did a really good job of incorporating our wide players today,” Golz said. “I think that a number of dangerous chances were generated by switching the point, by finding those players and joining with some numbers and attacking with some speed. And the first goal was a great picture of that.”

Three minutes later, as the Zips goalkeeper tried to clear the ball, freshman forward Itala Gemelli ran up to knock down the clearance effort, took a touch to settle the ball, and passed a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner for her third goal in as many games.

Gemelli said she saw the goalkeeper take a bad touch, and that “it’s really exciting” to score in three straight.

“We’ve been working on a lot of shots and crosses,” Gemelli said. “And we’ve had so many opportunities this game with the crosses, and to try and execute in the second half… We do have that ability to get different types of goals, we have the ability to shoot it from far away, to get close, to play it in, and we’re working on our finishing.”

Head coach Eric Golz said after the game that goals in quick succession are “massive momentum builders.”

“I think that the timing of those two goals,” Golz said, “and the quality of the first one and the alertness of the second one kind of took the air out of Akron a little bit, and it was tough for them to come back from that.”

The Flyers held the 2-0 lead for the next 15 minutes before a shot by the Zips was pushed out by Flyers goalkeeper Carly Becker, but the save found the feet of Carly Pcholinsky, who fired a shot into the back of the net to cut the Flyers’ lead in half. Golz said they “let down” to allow the goal, but were able to “pick it back up.”

Two minutes later, Sheldon was fouled just outside the penalty box on the left wing, setting up a free kick. Freshman defender Natalie Hegg crossed the ball into the box, and the cross was brought down by fellow freshman defender Elle Lovdal, who turned and struck a shot into the net to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead, which the Flyers held into halftime.

“Anytime something happens that we don’t necessarily want to happen within the flow of a game – which is life, which is sports, it’s gonna happen – we talk about the response, and moving on to the next play, the next sequence,” Golz said. “But just the resiliency to bounce back from whatever is going on, whatever adversity we’re facing. I think our mentality and mindset in terms of how we responded… was really positive.”

Neither team got much of an opportunity to score in the second half, though the Flyers had three corner kicks and the Zips had a free kick just outside the penalty box to the right, but none of those led to a goal or even a real scoring chance until a shot by sophomore midfielder Marlee Taylor was pushed behind by the Zips goalkeeper for a fourth second-half corner for the Flyers. 

Nothing came of that corner kick either, and the Flyers defense held on to a 3-1 win, with goals from freshmen Gemelli and Lovdal and senior Camarco. Both Gemelli and Golz said after the game that the Flyers tried to control the game and the tempo.

“I thought we did a better job of controlling the overall tempo (in the second half),” Golz said. “I thought we did a better job controlling the tempo, controlling possession, limiting their abilities to generate sustained possession, and and minimizing the danger of their counter attacks. I thought our response to some of the challenges discussed at halftime was very good, very positive. And overall, the team’s response to bouncing back and displaying some resiliency from Sunday (4-1 loss to Butler) was awesome, it was good to see.”

Although the game is officially an exhibition match, it is the third win for the Flyers in all competitions this year.

Next up, the Flyers face Marshall at home on Sunday at 4 p.m.

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