The Ashland University women's soccer team will play host to Tiffin on Friday (Oct. 27) at 7 p.m. at Ferguson Field in a nonconference game to close the regular season.
But just because the game won't count in the league standings doesn't make it meaningless.
The Eagles (10-5-1) still have plenty to play for, including a shot at the NCAA Tournament. AU has not been there since 2004.
Ashland was ranked No. 5 in this week's NCAA Division II Midwest Regional rankings and has a chance to help solidify its spot in those rankings with a win on Friday and another in the GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal on Tuesday (Oct. 31) at Ferguson Field.
"[Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament] would mean so much because we've been together for four years and to finally to do it our last year together would show how much we've grown the last four years," said senior defender Bridget McEldowney.
But there is work ahead still as the Eagles take on a Tiffin team that they narrowly beat, 1-0, in Tiffin on Sept. 24. Freshman Alexa Jacob scored the lone goal of the game in the 81st minute and freshman keeper Abby Lampe made seven saves.
The Eagles bounced back from a tough, 2-1 defeat to Saginaw Valley State last Friday to blank Northwood, 3-0, two days later. Ashland has yet to lose consecutive games this season and improved to 6-0 on Sundays.
"It says a lot about the character on our team," said senior midfielder Carson Janssen. "We have a lot of girls willing to work hard, everybody works hard. That's what's led to our success so far. We're 'all-in' here and we want to do what's best for the team."
The Eagles know the performance they put out on Friday against SVSU last week will not be good enough to beat the Dragons, who are red-hot and riding a four-game winning streak into Ferguson Field. They have beaten teams by a combined score of 7-2 in that stretch with two shutouts.
"We have been a second-half team in games, so we need to come out hard in the first half, which we didn't do last weekend," said McEldowney.
They will play this game knowing they will have another home game on Tuesday to open in the GLIAC Tournament against Northern Michigan. AU earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament for the second year in a row.
"It's always exciting and fun to play tournament games here," Janssen said. "We get all the support of the fans and the community. It's going to be a good time, we're ready for it."
Friday's game against Tiffin will kickoff at 7 p.m., while the GLIAC quarterfinal will start at 1 p.m. next Tuesday.