The Ashland University men's soccer team broke a scoreless tie in the 77th minute on a goal by freshman Haruki Kimura and preserved a shutout to win its GLIAC Tournament opener, 1-0, against Purdue Northwest on Tuesday (Oct. 30) afternoon in Hammond, Ind.
It was the Eagles' first postseason game since 2012 (the program was on hiatus from 2013-15) and their first GLIAC Tournament win since 2010 when they were crowned conference champions.
No. 6-seed Ashland (6-9-3) will now play No. 2-seed Parkside on Friday (Nov. 2) at 2 p.m. in Saginaw, Mich. in the GLIAC Tournament semifinal. The winner of the GLIAC Tournament earns an automatic bid into the NCAA field.
The Eagles were in command of the game for much of the first half, dominating the shot total, 11-1, and creating chances in the final third.
"We were tremendous from start to finish," said third-year head coach Oliver Slawson. "In our first ever playoff game, on the road, we dominated for large periods."
After a scoreless first half, the AU defense continued to hold while Ashland was finally able to garner the winning score with under 14 minutes remaining.
Junior John Duldner had his shot from distance clang off the left post and sophomore George Brown and Duldner won the ball with headers after the PNW clearance. Redshirt-freshman Kieran Paterson then flicked it to the wing where it fell to Kimura, who smashed a left-footed volley into the net from a tight angle.
It was his second goal in as many games and his second overall on the season. He provided the equalizer in a 2-2 tie in the regular season finale against Saginaw Valley last Friday.
"We showed really good resolve and belief to focus on the next chance after not taking some of the chances we created earlier," said Slawson. "We stayed at it and found the one we needed."
Sophomore keeper Dimitrius Karousos was not needed to make a save the rest of the way as the back line secured the victory. Karousos made three saves in the game in keeping his third shutout.
The Eagles held a 16-9 lead in total shots and led in corner kicks, 7-2.
"I want to congratulate Coach (Ryan) Hayes and Purdue Northwest on the season they had," Slawson said. "Finishing third in this league is a fine achievement and they'll be a strong side to deal with in the coming years."
Ashland will now play Parkside on Friday in the second GLIAC Tournament semifinal of the day. The Eagles and Rangers split a pair of 2-0 decisions in the regular season with both winning on the away pitch.
"We look forward to Friday and playing a very good Parkside team," said Slawson.