The Ashland University men's soccer team clinched a spot in the GLIAC Tournament with a 0-0 draw against visiting Purdue Northwest on Sunday (Oct. 27) afternoon at Ferguson Field.
It is the earliest the Eagles (5-8-1, 5-5-1 GLIAC) have qualified for the conference tournament since their reinstatement in 2016. Prior to the game, the Eagles recognized the five graduating members of their senior class which has won 26 games, won the GLIAC Tournament title and played in the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Eagles sit in fifth place in the GLIAC table on 16 points, just five points behind third-place Saginaw Valley.
The Eagles controlled much of the game on Sunday, especially in the first half and in the overtime periods when they looked destined to score the winner, but it never came. AU maintained 61 percent possession with 67 percent of that coming in Purdue Northwest territory.
The draw sealed the Pride's (1-11-3, 1-7-3 GLIAC) fate in keeping them out of the GLIAC Tournament.
"That was their game to stay in playoff contention, so they changed their system and what they've been doing because it was do or die for them," said AU's fourth-year head coach Oliver Slawson. "With good teams, if you can't win, you don't get beat, and we showed that. The last 20 minutes of overtime we really felt like the team that would win. We played in their final third. For the set piece chances we created, we've certainly got to do better with those. But there were a lot of positives for today."
The Eagles got seven saves from redshirt-freshman keeper Brett Robinson, who was making his second straight start. He made a diving save in the final 10 minutes of the second half to keep the game scoreless and tipped another over the bar in the first half as he controlled his penalty area.
"He's done everything we've asked of him," Slawson said. "His distribution's been good, he's kept two clean sheets. It's just a matter of him growing in his confidence and keeping doing what he's been doing."
Ashland had a great chance in the 25th minute on a header by redshirt-sophomore Kieran Paterson, whose header clanged squarely off the crossbar.
The Eagles were also denied five times in the overtime periods by Purdue Northwest keeper Sebastian Contreras. One of those was on a free kick, but Contreras made a diving save to cover his left post on a direct shot by senior Jordan Dees.
Overall, the Eagles maintained a 17-15 lead in shots, including 7-1 in the overtime periods.
The Eagles will now head to Parkside on Friday (Nov. 1) for a 2:30 p.m. game against the conference leader.