Soccer struggles in home debut

Chris Bils

After its first three matches produced mixed results – a win, tie and loss – the women’s soccer team played its first two home matches at Ferguson Field last weekend looking for consistency.

While the Eagles were consistent in two matches against Grand Valley State and Ferris State, it was not in the way head coach Danny Krispinsky was looking for.

“We saw some girls fight, but our overall quality right now is not where it needs to be,” Krispinsky said.

Ashland opened it Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference campaign with two 2-0 losses to the Lakers and Bulldogs.

No. 1 Grand Valley State (3-0-1, 1-0)

Grand Valley State brings its own set of challenges. The Lakers are constantly among the nation’s best, and this season is no exception. They marched into Ashland carrying and undefeated record and are coming off of an appearance in the national semifinals in 2012.

So while a 2-0 loss was not what Ashland was looking for, it was perhaps not as bad as it looked on paper.

In fact, had the Eagles been able to contain GVSU in the opening minutes they may have been able to pull a result against the top team in the nation. Two goals in the opening ten minutes provided the entire scoring summary.

In the sixth minute, Jenny Shaba opened the scoring with an unassisted goal, which ended up being the game-winner.

Less than four minutes later, Erika Bradfield slotted a shot into the left corner of the goal off of a cross by Kendra Stauffer.

Though the Lakers did not score again, the two goals were part of an extremely dominant first half. Grand Valley fired 10 shots and took six corner kicks in the opening 45 minutes, while the Eagles did not tally in either category.

Ashland showed more life in the second half, outshooting the Lakers 3-2, but senior Melissa Hill was the only AU player able to muster a shot on target.

Senior goalkeeper Rebecca Plescia made five saves in the loss.

Ferris State (2-3, 1-1)

Ashland looked to bounce back Sunday with a fixture against Ferris State, which was also looking to pick up its first conference victory after falling to Ohio Dominican on Friday.

Another lackluster performance by the Eagles left Krispinsky shaking his head and left the Eagles two games behind after the first weekend of the GLIAC season.

“We’re hitting a tough part right now and we’re in conference play,” Krispinsky said. “We’ve just got to get our confidence back.”

The Eagles and Bulldogs played even for the first half hour, but two mistakes before halftime cost Ashland two goals. That was all Ferris State needed to walk away with its first road win of the season.

The first goal came as a result of Ashland failing to clear a ball inside its own box in the 31st minute. The Bulldogs’ Nichole Boehnke latched onto it and fired a shot from near the penalty spot past Plescia to break the deadlock.

In the 42nd minute, Ferris State won a corner kick that was taken by Leanne Boehm. The corner kick resulted in another shot for Boehnke from close range. Plescia was there to make the save, but was unable to hold it and pushed the ball only as far as Boehnke’s feet. This time, Boehnke steadied herself and placed her shot away from Plescia into the far left corner of the net to make it 2-0.

“If they had broke us down I’d be all right with it, but we broke ourselves down,” Krispinsky said.

Ferris State held the run of play in the first 45 minutes, outshooting the Eagles 7-3.

Ashland showed more life in the first few minutes of the second half and created its best chance in the 48th minute.

Junior Kathleen Demaree brought the ball into the penalty area only to have her shot blocked, but the rebound fell to freshman Maddy Smith in space. However, Smith was unable to keep her shot down and it flew over the crossbar.

Play gradually deteriorated as the game wore on. Ashland kept the ball in FSU’s end for most of the half, but was unable to create many quality chances.

“It’s just having a recognition and awareness of when to move and being cleaner on the ball,” Krispinsky said. “Right now we’re struggling with that. The timing of our movements and where we need to go, and then even the girls with the ball need to have a clean touch and need to see where they need to play it.”

Ashland must regroup quickly, with two more home matches Friday and Sunday against conference rivals Findlay (7 p.m. Friday) and Tiffin (1 p.m. Sunday).