Saturday night under the lights of Sports Backers against the Dayton Flyers, VCU Men’s Soccer celebrated Senior Night in their home season finale. Dakota Barnathan, Rahim Costa-Dorsey, Brandon Eaton, Jorge Herranz, Simond Kargbo, Kai Marshall, Jason McGlothern and Juan Fajardo Ortiz were honored before VCU took on Dayton in their final Atlantic 10 season match. An entertaining match and then some that needed extra futbol to decide who would collect three crucial points.
In the opening minutes, Dayton applied tremendous pressure on VCU’s defense. The Flyers literally flew all over the pitch and was awarded early in the 4’ minute with the opening goal. Kennedy Nwabia was in the right spot as Dillon Nino sent the ball over VCU goalkeeper Pierre Gardan towards the 6-yard line.
Nwabia was able to head the ball in giving Dayton some relief and a 1-0 lead in a must-win match for the Flyers.
VCU struggled to move the ball forward however the Rams remained calm while trailing. As the match continued, Jorge Herranz and Rafael Andrade Santos was able to break through Dayton’s defense from midfield. Luc Fatton and Eli Lockaby provided more support down the sidelines as VCU continued searching for the equalizer.
Dakota Barnathan had a pair of chances off VCU corner kicks that just sailed wide of the post. In the 38’ minute, it was Francesco Amorosino providing the Black & Gold an equalizer; Fatton sent a rolling cross into the penalty area that took multiple deflections in front of Dayton goalkeeper Federico Barrios. The ball made it’s way through heavy traffic to Amorosino’s boot as he smashed it in for his fourth goal of the season to tie the match up at 1-1.
Things got even better for VCU just before time expired in the 1st half. In the 45’ minute, Herranz sent a curling VCU corner kick into the box; Travis Cooke got just enough of a touch on the ball pushing it towards Brandon Eaton. Eaton made quick work of his Senior Night moment with the go-ahead goal.
An ecstatic Black & Gold squad celebrated in an uproar as the Rams collected a 2-1 lead over Dayton just before the half-time whistle.
VCU kept on creating headaches for Dayton in the 2nd half. Fatton was able to slide by Dayton’s backline for multiple scoring chances causing frustration for the Flyers. Amorosino and Herranz collectively added to Barrios’ headache in goal as VCU nearly doubled their lead.
The temperature on the pitch raised along with the physicality. RJ Roberts was involved in a questionable tackle that was whistled by the center referee. A yellow card was shown in the 61’ minute but it was towards VCU’s Dakota Barnathan for mouthing off to the ref after the call.
Dayton was able to draw level in the 70’ minute. Rafael Gamboa and Alvaro Navarro connected on a one-timer from 16 yards out. Navarro took the shot that got by Pierre Gardan to tie the match at 2-2.
With new life, the Flyers quickly tested Gardan in goal for VCU. Rok Taneski led the Flyers towards goal but Gardan stayed strong collecting six saves on the night to keep things tied as the 2nd half continued. Things did get testy with the physicality and foul calling as a rare yellow card was shown to VCU’s Steve Dal Molin from off the bench after play was over in the 82’ minute.
More yellow were shown to VCU as Rafael Andrade Santos was shown the Rams third yellow card of the match off a bad tackle in the 89’ minute. Boos aplenty from a rambunctious crowd in the stands of Sports Backers that saw things differently.
Extra time was needed on Senior Night to decide a winner. Dayton came out the first period of overtime attacking early. Three challenging chances by the Flyers in the span of three minutes showcased Gardan making three spectacular saves to keep the Rams alive.
In the 98’ minute Dayton was able to close the match out. After Gardan came out of position to make a save, Ben Emery was able to send the ball back inside the box to Navarro for his second goal of the match to win it for the Flyers.
Dayton’s mission was a success to give the Flyers some hope at a chance of making the Atlantic 10 Men’s Soccer post-season tournament with a 3-2 win over VCU. The Rams fell short in their home season finale however VCU had already claim their spot in this season’s A-10 tournament before kick-off.
The 2016 Atlantic 10 Men’s Soccer Championship awaits VCU at Davidson, North Carolina. The tournament begins on Thursday, November 10th.
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