Dayton Dynamo earned a much-needed 2-0 victory over Kalamazoo FC in front of a home crowd at Welcome Stadium on Friday evening. Dayton had lost four consecutive NPSL contests to start the season, including a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Kalamazoo the previous week. The Dynamo flipped the script thanks to two goals from University of Dayton alumnus, Maik Schoonderwoerd, and clean sheet from former Wright State University goalkeeper, Corey Whisenhunt.
“Anybody that saw the game last week saw that we had chances. We had chances early to put that game away. We didn’t take them, and it came back to bite us,” said newly appointed Dynamo Head Coach Dan Griest. “Today, the boys fought for the whole 90 minutes and held each other accountable. Happy to come out and get the first win, for sure.”
Throughout much of the first half, long balls out of Dayton’s back line and small miscues led to a substantial amount of possession for Kalamazoo. The visitors were aggressive and had a number of good looks at goal, but Kalamazoo could not take advantage of the chances that presented themselves.
Dayton, on the other hand, seized an opportunity and the lead in the 34th minute. A Dynamo throw-in deep in the Kalamazoo end of the pitch carried all the way to the front of the goal, where Schoonderwoerd had set up camp. The Dynamo’s big target forward hit a solid header into the net, and the blue smoke billowed from the Gem City Squadron supporters section.
The Dynamo had taken a 1-0 edge into halftime of several contests this season, but have had some difficulty holding onto to the lead in the second half. This was not the case in the rematch with Kalamazoo, thanks to some halftime adjustments and a Dayton squad that came out of the break determined to dictate play over the final 45 minutes.
“Early on, we wanted to see if we could stretch them out, so that in the second half we could keep a few more balls in the middle of the park and see the game out,” said Griest. “Obviously with a 1-0 lead, we’re trying to hang on and keep as much possession as possible. I thought it worked out pretty well.”
Dayton doubled its lead in the 72nd minute after a sequence that showcased complete effort by defender Christian Johnson and perfect poise by Schoonderwoerd. Johnson assumed possession from Kalamazoo deep in his own half and carried the ball across the center line. As two Kalamazoo FC defenders closed, it appeared Johnson would lose possession himself, but a last ditch flick of the foot sent the ball to an unmarked Schoonderwoerd. Schoonderwoerd took a couple of touches directly at a defender, squared his hips, and slotted home the goal.
Griest said, “It’s nice for Maik to go and take his chances. He came up with two big goals today.”
The goal scorers normally garner the lion’s share of the glory, but Griest made sure to give credit to the guys that worked to keep a clean sheet. Griest was thrilled with the effort exerted by holing midfielder Dan Dwyer.
“I can’t say enough about Danny Dwyer today. He put in an absolute shift for 90 minutes,” effused Griest. “He’s not a big kid, but he absolutely worked his tail off for 90 minutes. He’s my man of the match for sure.”
The victory breathed life into the Dynamo’s season, as Dayton now sits only a couple of points away from the middle of the table in the NPSL Great Lakes West Conference.
“We’ve definitely had our chances early on, but to be 0-4 you get a lot of naysayers. The pressure does start to mount a little bit. The guys start pressing. We’ve been in games,” Griest said. “It’s nice for us to keep a clean sheet here for 90 minutes and gain a little confidence in the back. Hopefully, we can be smart and keep closing games out like this.”
The Dynamo’s next match is a friendly at home against Knoxville Force on Friday, June 10 at 7:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased at www.daytondynamo.com or at the gate on match day.