#2 Lakers Defeat #11 Eagles in Battle For First Place

#2 Lakers Defeat #11 Eagles in Battle For First Place

The Ashland University women's soccer team came up short in its bid to knock off No. 2 Grand Valley State, 2-0, on Friday (Nov. 1) night at Ferguson Field.

The Eagles (12-2-1, 6-1 GLIAC), ranked No. 11 in the United Soccer Coaches national poll, had their winning streak snapped at nine and their unbeaten streak stopped at 11.

"Ultimately defensively we had a really good night," said second-year head coach Taylor Clarke. "Even though the scoreboard might not show it, we limited a lot of chances. Our back line, holding mids, center backs, forwards, wingers – everyone put in tremendous work on the defensive side of the ball. Obviously, we want to hold them to zero, but we give them a huge amount of credit."

Ashland was able to muster a few chances throughout the match, especially in the first half, but could not break through against a GVSU back line that has not surrendered a goal since Sept. 15.

The Lakers (14-1, 7-0 GLIAC) scored the opener in the 23rd minute as Sydney O'Donnell's strike hit the underside of the crossbar and fell just over the line.

Redshirt-senior Deijah Swihart nearly had an immediate response, but her free kick sailed just left of the goal.

The Eagles had another opportunity five minutes later on a lovely cross by sophomore Faith Lewis, but senior Emily Ledbetter just could not square up a header against Grand Valley's tight defense.

The Lakers, who held 60 percent possession, controlled more of the ball in the second half and put the game away in the 77th minute. Riko Sagara hit a free kick from 24 yards off the post, but Greta Deloach cleaned up on the rebound. 

GVSU held a 22-5 lead in shots and junior keeper Hannah Lee made seven saves, including several difficult plays to maintain the score line.

"Incredible. It's a clear reason why she is the returning (GLIAC) Goalkeeper of the Year with a performance like that," Clarke said. "The amount of saves, quality saves, and ridiculous saves, we need those moments from her to keep us in close games and give us chances to win.

The Eagles will now look ahead to Sunday (Nov. 3) for a 1 p.m. kickoff against Davenport. The program will celebrate Senior Day prior to the contest.

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