BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Ashland University women's soccer team gave up an early goal to Ohio Valley and the score held up as the Fighting Scots eliminated the Eagles from the NCAA Tournament, 1-0, in the first round on Thursday (Nov. 8) afternoon at Bulldog Soccer Field.
The Eagles (10-5-5), seeded No. 7 in the Midwest Region, had chances throughout to tie the game, but were not able to deliver the strike they needed against the No. 2-seed Fighting Scots (17-2-3), who entered the tournament as the G-MAC champions.
The lone goal came in the seventh minute as Fernanda Araya took a pass from Hannah Roach and put it into the left side of the goal. It was Araya's 16th goal of the season.
The Eagles held a 7-5 advantage in shots in the first half, but most of their efforts came from outside the area and OVU keeper Kim Mora was equal to them. She made eight saves to keep the clean sheet.
Ashland had a couple chances in front of goal and several set piece opportunities in the closing minutes, but lacked the finishing touch to equalize.
In a season full of adversity that included injuries to key players and a shuffle in the coaching staff just days before the start of training camp, the Eagles qualified for their first NCAA Tournament since 2004.
Interim head coach Taylor Clarke took over the program in late July after head coach Danny Krispinsky stepped away from the program for health reasons.
The Eagles started the season with an 11-game unbeaten run that included a 0-0 tie against Grand Valley State, a team they had not earned a result against in its previous 17 tries. AU also picked up a crucial 1-0 win at Michigan Tech in the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal to stay in position for an at-large NCAA berth.
Ashland will return all 11 starters from this season's squad, losing just two seniors from the reserve unit.