#11 Ashland comes up short against powerhouse #2 Grand Valley, losing 2-0

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#11 Ashland comes up short against powerhouse #2 Grand Valley, losing 2-0

Senior forward Deijah Swihart drives down the pitch against Grand Valley State University

Senior forward Deijah Swihart drives down the pitch against Grand Valley State University

Hannah Witteman

Senior forward Deijah Swihart drives down the pitch against Grand Valley State University

Hannah Witteman

Hannah Witteman

Senior forward Deijah Swihart drives down the pitch against Grand Valley State University

Paul Murray

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The Ashland University women’s soccer team was unable to slow down Grand Valley State’s high powered offense on Friday night, resulting in a 2-0 loss.

The Eagles came into Friday’s match as the #11 team in the country. The team had been playing tremendous soccer as of late, riding high off of a nine-game winning streak. The main reason for their success so far this season has come from their own offensive scoring ability, scoring an average of three goals-per-match during this stretch.

The main offensive weapon this year has been Senior Forward Deijah Swihart, who currently leads the team in shots (39) and goals (8). But even Swihart knew coming into this match that their defense would need to be the focal point.

“They like to move on you fast. Our midfield is better than theirs, so if we can slow them down at the center we will win tonight,” Swihart said.

The main cause for concern was Grand Valley’s Ava Cook. Cook came into Friday’s match as Grand Valley’s leader in shots and goals. She has already amassed 16 goals this year with multiple games of two or more goals.

The Lakers as a unit came into the match as the #2 team in the country. They have been unstoppable on both sides of the ball, scoring 3.93 goals-per-game while allowing just 0.20 to opponents.

Grand Valley’s dominance as a national powerhouse was highlighted once again in Friday’s game. They got off to a quick start, scoring in the 23rd minute and never letting off the gas, taking 14 shots before the half – four of which were on goal.

Early on the Eagles had an opportunity to even it up. After a Grand Valley foul in the box, Swihart was awarded a free kick in the 38th minute. The Redshirt-Senior missed the kick wide left, on what would end up being the Eagles only shot-on-goal for the entire night.

“We could never get anything going offensively. Their backline played really well. Even so, I should have made that free-kick. It would have put us in the game,” Swihart said.

The Lakers then took control of the match, constantly applying pressure to the Eagle defense.

Reigning GLIAC goalkeeper of the week Hannah Lee made a few crucial saves to keep things lively. In the 62nd minute, Grand Valley State’s Riko Sagara had a one-on-one with Lee that was shut down by the junior keeper.

Just a few moments later in the 65th minute, Grand Valley’s standout forward Ava Cook tried her luck against Lee, but was met with the same fate.

“It’s a clear reason why she is the returning GLIAC goalkeeper of the year with a performance like that…the number 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,” head coach Taylor Clarke said.

It was not until the 78th minute that Hannah Lee gave up her second goal on the day and her seventh on the season. She finished with seven total saves on the day.

“Hannah played great. We need to do a better job of helping her out. There were too many one-on-one situations. That’s on us. That can’t happen. We knew that coming in and we still couldn’t slow it down. It’s frustrating,” Senior Defender and captain Sydney Wright said.

The Laker’s pressure and time of possession were evident at the end of the match, finishing with 22 total shots compared to Ashland’s five

This loss ended Ashland’s nine-game winning streak and now puts them at 12-2-1 for the year and 6-1 in the conference.

“Even though the scoreboard might not show it, we limited a lot of chances. Obviously, we want to hold them to zero, but we give them a huge amount of credit,” Clarke said.

The Eagles will most likely see Grand Valley again this year, as both teams are seeded high in the GLIAC. Last year the Lakers routed the Eagles in a 3-0 game in the conference semifinal. The team is hoping this year will be different.

“We know what we need to work on, we know our weaknesses. We’ll beat them in the tournament,” Swihart said.

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