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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Eagles prepare for Division I Ohio State in 2024 exhibition

Both teams reached their respective NCAA Tournaments in the 2023 fall season
Ben Nichols
AU forward Avery Rosso takes a kick from the corner for the Eagles in the 2023 season.

Ashland, Ohio – While the Eagles may be comfortable at the Division II level, the team will look to bounce up to higher-level competition in 2024.

On Sunday, Aug. 25, the Ashland University women’s soccer team will have a chance to take on Division I opponent, The Ohio State Buckeyes. With an obvious focus on playing top-tier teams in preparation for repeating 2023 success, Eagles Head Coach Cayleb Paulino has the team ready for any level of opposition.

“I think we are always trying to find a way to test ourselves whether it be preseason against Ohio State or a difficult spring schedule,” Paulino said. “We want to identify areas we can improve at the highest level and playing a team like Ohio State is definitely going to provide an opportunity to be challenged.”

In the 2024 spring season, the Eagles have taken on all Division I opponents.

Back in March, they took on Kent State and Xavier University, before most recently squaring off against Wright State on April 6th.

Through the next two weekends, April 14th and 20th, the team will have an opportunity to take on the University of Akron and the University of Dayton. Both are prominent D-I programs.

“The expectation never changes for our program. Our job is to raise the standard,” said Paulino. “We have challenged the group by playing against 5 D-I programs this spring.

“Two Power 5 programs, one of which made the NCAA tourney, and three others. Two of those three made their conference tournament.”

With such strong opponents throughout the spring, the team will continue to raise the standard in the fall as they take on the Buckeyes.

In the 2023 fall, Ohio State went 9-8-2 overall and 5-4-1 in conference play. The team’s efforts would push them into the D-I playoffs.

The opportunity to take on the Buckeyes arose from connections made while traveling to recruit.

“I have had the chance to get to know Coach [Lori] Walker through some recruiting events that both of us attend,” said Paulino. “I had happened to see her over the weekend and that Monday Coach Walker reached out to me and asked if we would be willing to play.”

For the Eagles, 2023 was marked with a 19-1-4 overall record while going 11-0-3 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC).

“With the success we have had over the past few years, we have definitely gained some recognition amongst other programs across all divisions,” he said.

The Eagles and Buckeyes will go toe-to-toe on Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

“We want to continue to grow as a program. We are running towards challenges not away from them and I think our group is excited for what’s next in the growth of AU women’s soccer,” he said.

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