The Ashland University men's soccer team scored a miracle goal in the 88th minute to equalize against Tiffin, but the Dragons scored the overtime game-winner in the 99th as the visitors dispatched the Eagles, 3-2, at Ferguson Field on Friday (Oct. 27).
The loss ended the season for the Eagles (7-9-1, 2-9-1 GLIAC), who needed a win or tie to advance to the GLIAC Tournament.
The Eagles trailed late in regulation, 2-1, and needing a goal, head coach Oliver Slawson turned to 6-foot-1 freshman defender Cameron Mendel to play up top and provide the Eagles a big target.
With time crawling under three minutes left, TU keeper Cary Wilson took possession of a ball and allowed his field players to advance up the field. But what he didn't count on was Mendel launching himself up as he kicked the ball downfield. The ball ricocheted the leaping Mendel's shoulder, bounced past Wilson and rolled just inside the post, tying the game at 2.
Unfortunately, Tiffin provided the game-winner in overtime as the Eagles were not able to muster a dangerous attack after regulation.
"The positive for us was the performance," Slawson said. "Tiffin won the game and credit to them, but we were on the ball and moving it. It was just the story of our season. We just weren't mature enough when we didn't have the ball."
Ashland dominated possession for much of the game, but Tiffin (8-6-3, 6-4-2 GLIAC) got on the board in the 31st minute on a goal by Omar Kamara, who beat his man one-on-one and stuck his shot in the bottom corner.
The Eagles responded nine minutes later when a 40-yard free kick by sophomore Liam Duncan was deflected down by sophomore center back John Duldner. Duldner then regrouped and hit the bouncing ball past Wilson to tie the game at 1. It was Duldner's second goal of the season and Duncan's third assist.
The game remained tied into halftime, but Ashland was the aggressor. Just five minutes into the second half, the Eagles appeared to go ahead as freshman Yusuke Yasumasu used space in the box and rifled a shot past Wilson. The ball struck the inside of the post and skidded across the goalmouth before being cleared away by Tiffin.
"We dominated the game by possession, we had chances," Slawson said. "We just need a little more quality in the final third and a little more maturity when we're not on the ball."
Ashland out-shot Tiffin, 9-4, in the second half, but the Dragons scored the go-ahead goal in the 82nd goal as Matthew Tait recovered a deflection and made it 2-1.
Mendel's miraculous goal in the 88th minute tied it before Marc Albert Feliu gave the Dragons the win as they head to the GLIAC Tournament as the No. 3 seed.
The Eagles scored 31 goals on the season, out-pacing last season's total by 18, as eight players scored multiple times.
"We've made a lot of progress, won big games against better teams," said Slawson. "We scored a lot of goals. Now we just have to get an area of our team right for next year."
The Eagles out-paced last season's win total with seven victories and went 5-0 in in-region nonconference games, despite every field player being a freshman or sophomore. Ashland made its return to the men's soccer pitch in 2016 after a three-season hiatus.