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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

AU women’s soccer takes down Thomas More in quarterfinal round of conference tournament

The Eagles remain undefeated on the season through 19 games
Retrieved from AU Athletics with permission
Eagle forward McKinley Mendenhall takes a corner kick for the team during a conference outing.

The Ashland University women’s soccer team competed against the Thomas More Saints on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Ferguson Field in the opening round of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) tournament.

The Eagles, who went into the contest ranked second in the nation, dominated from start to finish en route to a 2-0 win, securing a spot in the semi-final round in Midland, Mich.

To start the first half of play, the Eagle offense instantly went to work behind the dynamic duo of McKinley Mendenhall and Dani Hicks as they attempted to find the game’s opening goal. Within the first four minutes of play, the two both recorded a shot, putting the pressure on the Saints’ defense early.

In the 10th minute, Hicks would have yet another opportunity, taking a shot against Saints goalkeeper Lauren Welsh with the ball being cleanly saved.

With the Eagles already recording three shots within the first 10 minutes, the team only continued to push the pace of play.

The defense would rarely be tested, with very little opportunities from the Saints offense.

After 16 minutes went by, Eagle Head Coach Cayleb Paulino opted to bring in bench-spark Sydney Polen to help try to find the first score of the outing. Her presence would instantly be known as she helped win the ball in the midfield for the team, while also pushing the ball forward to keep the offense involved.

The next 29 minutes of play was highlighted by back and forth change in possession, as neither team were able to get on the scoreboard.

Heading into halftime, the scoreline remained with the game level, 0-0.

Through the opening 45 minutes, the Eagles outshot the Saints, 7-4, while also recording two more fouls, 6-4. When it came to the defense, the Saints were highly tested as Welsh had to make five saves for her side compared to just two for Eagle goalkeeper Maddie Dolenga.

As the Eagles opened up the second half of play, the team remained with the same poise from the first 45 minutes, looking for the opening goal.

In the 46th minute, the Eagles would find what they were looking for.

The goal would come from freshman standout-midfielder Ella Schneider, as she found her second goal of the season off a corner kick. With the ball flying into the box, Schneider was able to get her head on the ball, sailing it into the back of the net and past Welsh to open the game up.

Her goal would instantly give momentum to the home side as the Eagle faithful rallied behind the team.

With adrenaline pumping, the Eagles would go back on the offensive side quickly. After forcing the ball inside the box, the Saints would commit a foul, forcing a penalty kick in the 48th minute.

Eagle midfielder Merrik Mihalek would be given the chance to put the team up by two, and would drill the ball into the back netting for the score. The Eagles would go up 2-0 over the Saints, with the team fully in the drivers seat for the remainder of the contest.

Through the next 42 minutes, the two teams would battle it out through the midfield, with the Saints recording nine more shots.

Of those nine shots, six would end up on target with all being saved by Dolenga. Her performance would help lead the Eagles to the team’s 15th clean sheet on the season as she allowed no shots to fall into the back netting.

The Eagles, with the win, next look to the semi-final round where the team will take on the Northwood Timberwolves on Thursday, Nov. 9, with kickoff set for 1:30 P.M. on the road.

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