The Ashland University women's soccer team continues its slog of a five-game road trip this weekend when they battle Charleston (W.Va.) on Friday before opening Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play on Sunday at Tiffin.
AU is the midst of a stretch where it plays seven out of eight games away from Ferguson Field. The Eagles will make up for it in October, playing five of their final seven regular season games at home.
"Our team gets excited for away trips, because it's a great chance for all of us to bond and spend extra time together," said junior midfielder Emily Ledbetter, who leads the team with two assists. "Leading up to the games, we hype it up a lot as something we're looking forward to."
The Eagles (2-2-1) are coming off a 1-0 win at Ferris State that followed a 3-0 defeat at Grand Valley State. Both those games were played as part of the nonconference schedule. GVSU and FSU will return trips to Ashland later this season as part of the GLIAC slate.
Ashland got a strong defensive performance against the Bulldogs, staring down 24 shots with freshman goalkeeper Abby Lampe making 11 saves to keep the Eagles' first clean sheet of the season.
"Defending as a unit is very important and we won our individual battles," said senior forward Kelsey McKernan. "That's something we've been working on a lot."
AU will make an important trip to Charleston on Friday for a 4 p.m. kickoff as the Eagles and Golden Eagles match up for a second straight season. The teams tied, 1-1, last year at Ferguson Field as Charleston was on its way to a second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Charleston (2-2-3) has scored six goals in seven games, but has been stingy on the back line, allowing just six goals.
The Eagles and Dragons (1-5-1) will open conference play on Sunday at noon. Tiffin has scored one goal per game this campaign, but it dropped both games of its swing at Ferris State and GVSU. Last season, the Eagles knocked off the Dragons, 4-1, in Tiffin, getting two goals from senior forward Morgan Bittengle.
"Winning is the most important thing for us right now and just continuing to work together as a unit," Ledbetter said. "After our first few games we're a little tired and some of us are dealing with little tweaks here and there. But our mindset will be to stay focused, stay driven and stay committed."
Ashland will finally return home for one game on Tuesday (Sept. 26) to play Notre Dame (Ohio) in a nonconference affair.