Saturday, August 17, 2013
DAYTON, Ohio -- The Dayton Dutch Lions clinched the first playoff berth in club history as they took a 3-1 victory against the Harrisburg City Islanders in their final game of the USL PRO regular season on Saturday night at Beavercreek Stadium. The Dutch Lions (10-9-7) also finished above .500 for the first time in club history as they rallied from an early deficit to defeat the City Islanders (14-10-2).
Things looked a little dicey for the Dutch Lions when, in the second minute of the game, the City Islanders’ defensive back Coady Andrews got his head on the ball from a corner kick and sent it sailing into the Dutch Lions’ goal for an early Harrisburg lead.
Dayton hunkered down with several opportunities hit get back on even terms in the first half, including an intense run down the right flank by Gibson Bardlsey who rammed the ball toward the City Islander’s keeper Nick Noble, but it curved out just wide of the goal. Dayton’s Eli Garner also had a chance as he broke into the City Islander’s penalty area, but Noble scooped it up off his feet for the save. Garner had several other opportunities which found Noble out of his box, with Harrisburg’s defensive backs, Stephen Basso and Andrews, stepping up each time and denying the equalizer.
The Dutch Lions' pressure would pay off in the second half, however, as Garner started the side's rally to victory. Garner found the back of the net in the 57nd minute when he made good on through-ball from Irakli Khutsidze and scored for Dayton, tying things up 1-1. Six minutes later, Bardsley took his turn and nailed home a shot to the back post that put the Dutch Lions ahead.
Dayton bolstered its lead in the 69th minute with a third goal by Brandon Schwartzendruber, who saw his chance arrive when he crept within yards of the penalty area and, with great composure, lifted a deft touch over Noble and under the crossbar for a 3-1 lead. The Dutch Lions were able to maintain their two-goal advantage until the final whistle, sending an exuberant crowd and the team into celebration.
Dayton Coach Patrick Bal joined in the enthusiasm, citing the results as “absolutely fantastic”.
“I think we created the most chances in one game in this game," Bal said. "We had to be there today. Today was the biggest moment in these guys’ careers, maybe…for sure it is the biggest in the club’s history! And they stepped up to the level we hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks.”
Bal quickly shifted his attention to the future, and the Dayton Dutch Lions’ début in the USL PRO Playoffs. “We’re going to play to win,” Bal emphasized. “We’re not just going to play to be part of the playoffs. We’re going to play to win.”
The Dayton Dutch Lions wish to thank their fans and sponsors for an exciting USL PRO Season, and invite everyone to visit the Dutch Lions website for tickets and updates to the USL PRO Playoffs. The Dutch Lions strive to create a professional environment with integrity and ethical conduct for its pro players and its youth, promoting competitive excellence, sportsmanship and community service.