Maybe the most important turning point in the Dayton Dutch Lions’ 2-1 win over Erie Commodores in the First Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on a windy night at McConnell Family Stadium in Erie took place a few moments before the game actually began.
“We were fortunate to win the coin flip,” Dayton head coach Dan Griest. “I thought we came out in the first 45, with the wind at our backs, and played some goods soccer, creating a lot of chances. We were very pleased to come out like that, survive and advance.”
Within the first 10 minutes of the match, the Dutch Lions had already lined up three corner kick attempts.
“We really tried to keep it, and make them chase us a little bit,” Griest said. “We created a lot of chances and were a little disappointed we didn’t capitalize on more of them.”
The third corner would prove to be the charm.
On a lining ball in, it appeared that Georgios Charkoutsakis redirected the ball into goal, but ultimately the 12th-minute tally would be credited as an own goal.
“He (Georgios) said he got on the end of it,” Griest said. “He’s a big player, lot of physicality, and he’s going to get on the end of a lot of those. So, I’ll take his word for it, but we’ll have to watch the replay back,”
The goal would go in the books as going off Erie’s Craig Quinn.
Somehow, Erie withstood Dayton’s first half assault, which included 12 shots (7 on frame) and seven corner kicks.
While the Commodores were chasing the game for much of the first half, and still had created a few moments as they eventually settled down and started to knock the ball around a bit.
Most notably, a Keiran Paterson attempt on frame in the 34th minute forced Dayton’s keeper, Fedrico Barrios, to make a quick reaction save.
“To be fair, if you take away their first goal, we created two, possibly three chances in the first half,” Erie head coach Dale White said after the match. “They didn’t create too much at that point, so from that sense, it was a positive.”
Erie began the second half with the wind at its backs and living up to its club motto, they certainly didn’t give up the Ship — and set its sails forward in hopes of finding the equalizing moment.
Sure enough, in the 55th minute, they found it.
Curtis Strolley was fed a nice ball from Austin Solomon, then dribbled deep into the box, and was able to slip a shot past Dayton’s keeper Barrios to level the match.
Despite pulling even with the Dutch Lions, the Commodores couldn’t completely take the momentum of the match.
“We pull to 1-1, and we were in it,” White said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t create enough in the second half.”
Dayton’s captain, Tate Robertson took matters into his own in the 73rd minute. The former Bowling Green University standout alternated between playing in the top of the Dutch Lions formation in the first half, and dropping into a central midfield role which is his more natural position.
Robinson took a pass from Harvey Slade, found some room to maneuver, then unleashed a shot from 15 yards to beat Alex Brems, and give the Dutch Lions the lead.
“It was well taken,” Griest said. “We created quite a few chances in the game, and nice to get one at such a critical point in the game. He (Robertson) created some space, and hit that ball very well.”
White felt like it was a tough break at that moment.
“We had an injury, and playing with 10 men at that point, as one player (Joseph Bell) was getting treatment,” White explained. “They got a bit more comfortable on the ball. Started running at defenders a bit more. And that’s how the goal came. In that sense, that’s frustrating, but we didn’t create too much in the second half.”
Dayton dominated the stat sheet, out-possessing Erie (59/41%), sent a lot more shots (17-4, 9-1 on target) and 11-3 edge on corner kicks, but it was one of those games where it still came down to the final moments.
With four minutes of stoppage time added, Erie could only get one decent final chance in the final third, but its corner attempt was cleared away.
Both coaches knew it would be a tough challenge with Erie having only one training session together before this match, and Dayton less than a week, but both sides still put forth quality play.
White even quipped that some of his players still didn’t even know each other’s names yet.
As for the Dutch Lions, a club that has some positive history in the Open Cup, getting to the quarterfinals and beating the Columbus Crew along the way when they were a USL Pro (now USL Championship) side, they’ll now look forward to moving on to the second round, and a return trip to Pennsylvania next Tuesday to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since they were last league foes in 2014.
“It’s always tough to win on the road, but we’re very pleased and excited to be moving on,” Griest said.” Obviously, the Riverhounds we’ll enjoy this eve go there and try to get another result.”