ALLENDALE, Mich. - Third-seeded Ashland University and top-seeded Grand Valley State University advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) women's soccer tournament final, which will be played Sunday (Nov. 6) at the Grand Valley State University Soccer Field at 1:00 p.m.
Ashland downed the No. 2 seed, Ohio Dominican University, 0-0, advancing on penalty kicks (4-3) in the first semifinal match of the day. GVSU knocked off the No. 4 seed Tiffin University, 2-0, in the second semifinal match.
[Click here for AU-ODU Box Score] (Release courtesy of the AU Sports Information Department)
Some coaches and fans of soccer believe that a penalty kick shootout is a terrible way to end a game. It comes outside the flow of the game and the rules of soccer are basically thrown out the window as the game turns into a one-on-one battle between kicker and goalkeeper.
Anyone who thinks this way will have a hard time convincing the AU women's soccer team that a shootout is not a great way to decide a winner.
Ashland played Ohio Dominican to a scoreless draw through 110 minutes of play on Friday (Nov. 4) in Allendale, Mich. in the GLIAC Tournament semifinal. It was then time for the teams to step to the penalty spot for a shootout, which AU won, 4-3.
"With the PKs, you put your best five out there and it's a 50/50 shot from there," said AU head coach Glenn Francis. "There's nothing else I can do. We practiced it all week and felt good about it going in."
The Eagles advance to the GLIAC Tournament Championship Game to play host No. 3 Grand Valley State, which beat Tiffin, 2-0, in Friday's other semifinal.
"We feel like the job's not over yet, there is still one more to go," said Francis.
Sophomore Tani Lopez (Avon Lake, Ohio) was the first to kick for the Eagles and she converted against ODU goalkeeper Kaitlyn Bonar, who subbed in just before the start of the penalty kicks. ODU's Shara Perry followed with a miss against AU goalkeeper Rebecca Plescia (Parma, Ohio/Padua) to give AU the 1-0 lead through one kick.
Ashland led, 2-1, through two kicks after junior Rachel Luebke (Medina, Ohio) deposited her goal, followed by a score by ODU's Sierra Patterson.
Sophomore Melissa Hill (Medina, Ohio) missed on AU's third try and Tonya Frasik tied it for ODU, 2-2, through three kicks. Freshman Lexi Gruich (Akron, Ohio/Copley) connected as did Megan Augusta for the Panthers.
Sophomore Katelyn Peterson (Vermilion, Ohio) delivered AU's fourth shootout goal in the fifth round. Jennifer Holton stepped to the spot next, but missed, sending AU to the title game.
The Eagles only got to the penalty kicks on the strength of a dominant defense. AU surrendered 17 shots in total, but Plescia was a stone wall, making eight saves. It was her third straight shutout and seventh of the season. She and the AU defense are currently running a streak of 393 scoreless minutes.
"Both teams looked good, it was a well-played game," Francis said. "Our defense stuck in and kept them out of the back of the net."
Freshman Haley Frick (Brunswick, Ohio) took three of Ashland's six shots in the game, two of which were on goal. Hill also had two shots saved by ODU goalkeeper Laura Clark.
The Eagles were out-shot, 17-6, in total, including 11-2 in the second half and overtimes. Their lack of opportunities did not derail them from the penalty spot, however.
AU played the final five minutes without sophomore Deanna Gundling (Concord, Ohio/Riverside), who was sent off with a second yellow card. She will miss the GLIAC title game.
The Eagles now have the tough task of facing off with No. 3 Grand Valley State, playing on its home field on Sunday (Nov. 6) at 1 p.m. The Lakers beat AU, 5-0, at Ferguson Field on Sept. 25. But right now, the Eagles are playing and defending like a team that is not willing to be denied.
"We're on a high right now, but we need to bring that down for Sunday," Francis said. "If we do that and execute well, we'll be in the game. Anything is possible."
[Click here for TU-GVSU Box Score] (Release courtesy of the GVSU Sports Information Department)
The No. 3 Grand Valley State women’s soccer team extended its shutout streak to nine games as it won 2-0 over Tiffin in the GLIAC Semifinals on Friday night at the GVSU Soccer Field.
The Lakers now host the GLIAC Championship game against Ashland at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be webcasted on GVSULakers.com.
With the win, GVSU improves to 17-0-2 overall, while Tiffin falls to 9-8-3 on the year. GVSU is riding an 860-minute shutout streak and extended its unbeaten streak to 37 games.
It didn’t take long for the Lakers to get on the board as the GLIAC Defensive Player of the Year junior Alyssa Mira (Livonia, Mich.) found the back of the net in the 15th minute. After a few deflections, Mira found the ball at her feet at the top of the circle when she fired a shot that hit the crossbar and popped into the right side of the net for the 1-0 lead.
GVSU dominated the first half, giving up just one shot. Tiffin’s Stephanie Bowman nailed a free kick from 25-yards out, but junior keeper Chelsea Parise (Warren, Mich.) was able to knock it over the bar to keep the shutout intact.
The Lakers struck again at the 51:21 mark when junior Ashley Botts’ (Beloit, Wisc.) goal from junior Maria Brown (Columbus, Ohio) made it a 2-0 game. Botts, the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year, tallied her 16th goal of the season.
Despite outshooting Tiffin, 32-2, GVSU landed only 12 shots on net, allowing for Hayley Coppola to pick up nine saves in just her second loss of the season.