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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

AU women’s soccer finishes regular season play with win over Ohio Dominican

The Eagles finish the regular season undefeated with a 15-0-3 record
Jan Powers Media
The Eagles rejoice after pulling off a 2-0 win over the Panthers at a snowy Ferguson Field in Ashland, Ohio.

Ferguson Field in Ashland, Ohio, paid host to two things: the first snowfall of the year, and last regular season contest of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference season on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

The Eagles and Ohio Dominican Panthers went toe-to-toe against one another through the windy, cold and snowy conditions, with the home-sided Eagles coming out on top, 2-0.

In the first half of play, the field was clear and had not seen any snow yet. However, the weather certainly kept things cold for the players on the field.

The Panthers were the first team to attempt to take control, as within the first five minutes of play they attacked the Eagles side of the field, producing one shot that ended up on goal. For goalkeeper Maddie Dolenga, it was an easy save as she started in net for the Eagles with counterpart Mackenzie Simon ruled out with an injury.

After the first five minutes came and went, the Eagles would then find the offensive production they had been looking for just a game ago in a 0-0 draw to the Findlay Oilers. Over the next 15 minutes of play, they would move the ball into the Panthers final third multiple times, recording four shots with two ending up on goal.

None of the four shots would pose a real threat as Panther goalkeeper Jadelyn McNerney cleanly saved each.

In the 20th minute, the snow started to slowly fall down, with little flakes at first. During this time the Eagles would also make the team’s first subsitution of the contest, bringing in forward Sydney Polen in hopes of lighting a spark for the offense.

Well, she would do just that.

As the Eagles brought in more substitutions as the temperature dropped, the help off the bench would prove to be vital. Just 11 minutes after Polen was brought onto the field, she would help assist on the first goal of the outing at the foot of forward Allison King.

King, off a clean pass from Polen, knocked the ball with her left foot into the bottom right corner of the goal, putting the Eagles on top 1-0.

The next 15 minutes would be highlighted by the Eagles attempting to score a second outing, while taking five shots.

The Eagles would head into halftime with a 10-4 margin over the Panthers in the shot category. They also recorded four corner kicks and the Panthers had just two. The first half also saw a very disciplined level of aggression, as just six fouls were called between the two sides.

Heading into halftime one thing was on the mind of players and coaches: get warm.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of anything like that,” said Head Coach Cayleb Paulino. “It was like being in a human snow globe. I’m really proud of the group for getting a result in elements like this.”

To begin the second half, the two parties trotted onto the snowy field, as the once green field became white.

Unlike the first half, the second was much less competitive.

The Eagles’ offense continued to push the pace of play, allowing very little flaws to slip through the cracks. While they took less shots, the amount of corner kicks drastically heightened.

Through just 15 minutes of play in the second half, the Eagles recorded five shots and two corner kicks as they continued to put the pressure on the opposition. They also recorded over 10 throw-ins on the Panthers side of the field.

In the 56th minute, the Eagles would find the team’s second and final goal of the contest.

This goal would come off the the head of midfielder Emily Pate. She was assisted by sophomore forward Dani Hicks and junior forward McKinley Mendenhall.

Five minutes later, Paulino went back into his rotation, just like the first half, bringing in the likes of Polen and King. Right after the substitution, King recorded a shot, narrowly missing out on her second goal of the outing.

The remaining 30 minutes of play was highlighted by intense snowfall, with the two teams barely being able to pass the ball off the ground, and plenty of slipping and sliding.

Paulino, like earlier, would continue to go deeper into his rotation with sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Watson playing in her first contest of the season. She would go on to play seven minutes in the game, replacing a three-save performance from Dolenga.

“Unbelievable job by Maddie [Dolenga] . You have to be ready,” she said. “Maddie’s taken her role very seriously and has helped us get through these last couple weeks.”

The Eagles would be led by Mendenhall who recorded three shots, one on goal and one assist, while king would produce four shots, two on goal and one finding the back of the net, coming off the bench. The shut-out play from Dolenga and Watson marked the 14th clean sheet of the 2023 campaign for the team.

The Eagles next look to the GMAC tournament where they will pay host to the Thomas More Saints on Saturday, Nov. 4, with kickoff set for 7:00 P.M.

The Great Midwest Athletic Conference regular season came to a close on Oct. 31. The Eagles finished second in the standings. (Retrieved from the conference website)
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