The Ashland University women's soccer team turned in a sterling defensive effort and advanced to the GLIAC Tournament semifinals with a 1-0 win over host Michigan Tech on Tuesday (Oct. 30) afternoon in Houghton, Mich.
The No. 5-seed Eagles (10-3-5) also improved their stock in the Midwest Region rankings with the win over the No. 4-seed Huskies (10-6-1). Ashland entered the game ranked No. 4 in the Midwest Region, while Michigan Tech came in ranked No. 10.
More importantly, Ashland kept its GLIAC Tournament title hopes alive. The Eagles will now play top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Grand Valley State on Friday (Nov. 2) at 5 p.m. in Allendale, Mich.
Freshman Makenzie Kelly provided the only scoring punch the Eagles would need in the 48th minute. The Eagles won a corner kick and her header off the cross by Tori Baker wound up in the back of the net to put the visitors in front. It was Kelly's fifth goal and Baker's third assist.
"It was something we stressed recently to capitalize on our set pieces," said interim head coach Taylor Clarke. "We had worked on that the last two weeks, emphasizing our service in training. The finish on the other end was phenomenal. And to have two freshmen step up in that moment is awesome."
The AU defense and sophomore goalkeeper Abby Lampe kept the Huskies off the board with four saves – all in the second half.
"She has been absolutely fantastic for us," Clarke said. "She's been a rock and shown a lot of grit the last handful of games. She's fought through to put up big performances for us."
The Eagles withstood early possession and pressure from the Huskies, who had beaten the Eagles less than two weeks prior at Ferguson Field, 2-0.
"They're an attacking-minded team that likes to put the ball forward," said Clarke. "Our back line cut them out and didn't allow them to become chances. As we sorted that out, it allowed us to get in the spots to win the ball and make our passes."
The Eagles played the last 23 minutes with 10 players after the referee handed a second yellow card to all-region center back Sydney Wright, but Ashland locked in defensively to see off the win.
Michigan Tech held an 8-6 lead in total shots and the Huskies maintained a 3-2 edge in corner kicks.
Amanda Young made two saves for Michigan Tech.
The Eagles will kick off with No. 1 Grand Valley State at 5 p.m. Friday in Allendale, Mich. in the GLIAC Tournament semifinal. AU tied GVSU, 0-0, at Ferguson Field on Sept. 16, but fell to the Lakers, 3-0, in Allendale on Oct. 14.