The Ashland University men's soccer team will look to continue its form with a vital two-game road trip this week to Northwood and Northern Michigan.
The Eagles (3-8-1, 2-6 GLIAC) are coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Davenport on Sunday (Oct. 7) in which they overcame a halftime deficit. Redshirt-freshman Kieran Paterson scored the second half equalizer and sophomore Justin Libertowski knocked in the golden goal in the 96th minute.
That win capped a 2-2 stretch for Ashland in which three games went to overtime, and the other was a 2-0 win over the Timberwolves, a perennial NCAA Tournament contender.
"We're definitely playing better right now," said junior central midfielder John Duldner. "It seemed to happen the last two years as well for us. Later in the season we really start to click with each other. We just wish it would happen earlier in the year."
The Eagles sit in a tie for sixth place in the GLIAC standings with four conference games remaining. The top six in the league will qualify for the GLIAC Tournament.
The Eagles have seen the better run of play for much of the last four games after enduring a four-game losing stretch in which they scored one goal. AU has scored five times in the last four games and will need to continue their run of goals to maintain their success.
While Libertowski has continued as the Eagles' top scorer with six goals this season after bagging five in 2017. Head coach Oliver Slawson will need others to step into a goal-scoring role as the schedule comes down the stretch.
Paterson has knocked in a pair of headers in the last four games and is the other AU player with multiple goals on the season.
"As we know we can see from the results we haven't been scoring many goals, but we know we've got players of the caliber to score goals at this level," Paterson said. "It comes down to winning individual battles. You know the one chance you get, you have to put it away. It comes down to the small increments and keeping it as basic as possible."
On the back line, the Eagles have been solidly improved from last season with a 1.53 goals against average. Throwing out a 5-3 loss in the season opener, Ashland has allowed just 14 goals in 11 games. Last year, AU posted a 2.38 goals against average.
"It's been a focus, but our biggest focus has been trying to get goals in," Duldner said. "Once we get goals in we know we have a back line that's going to hold it down for us. The main focus for us is scoring goals and getting wins."
The Eagles kick off with Northwood at 2 p.m. on Friday (Oct. 12) before a trip to the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan on Sunday (Oct. 14) for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.