By Caleb Scott
ADA — The No. 14-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team used two late first half goals on Saturday afternoon to top visiting Penn St.-Behrend 2-0 in the First Round of the 2017 NCAA Div. III Women's Soccer Tournament at Kerscher Stadium.
The Polar Bears improve to 18-1-2 overall, while the Lions end their season at 10-5-3.
ONU advances to the second round of the NCAA Div. III Tournament, where it will take on No. 20-ranked Illinois Wesleyan at 1:30 pm at Kerscher Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Polar Bear defense posted its 14th shutout of the season, breaking a 20-year old school record set during the 1997 season.
Sophomore Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) recorded her 18th career shutout in the victory, moving into sixth place all-time in school history for career shutouts.
Sophomore Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) and freshman Siena Ward (Newport Beach, Cal./Newport Harbor) each scored within two minutes of each other to lead Northern offensively, while sophomore Hannah Martin (Mason/Mount Notre Dame) and Fuller each added assists.
After a defensive battle throughout the majority of the first half ensued, Martin played a cross into the goalies box and found a cutting Fuller who put the ball away to give the Polar Bears a 1-0 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the half.
Shortly after in the 45th minute, Fuller turned a breakaway into a cross from the right wing, before Ward was able to one touch the ball into the net to push the lead to 2-0 heading into the intermission.
The Lion offense wouldn't go away in the second half, as it out-shot Ohio Northern 8-3 but could not manage to find the back of the net.
The Polar Bear defense would stand strong as ONU went on to claim the victory 2-0.
Northern edged PSB in shots by a 17-16 margin and won the corner kick battle 5-2.
"I'm just really proud of this group," said head coach Mark Batman. "They are a young group of girls that haven't been in a situation like this before and we kind of felt like the first half was really going to be about balancing out the emotional piece and getting settled in. As the first half went on we got better. Those two goals at the end of the half were huge for us. I felt like we could have got a couple more in the second half but at the end of the day its about moving on and we are happy to be competing still."
ONU returns to action on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm as it hosts No. 20-ranked Illinois Wesleyan in the Second Round of the NCAA Div. III Women's Soccer Tournament at Kerscher Stadium.