By Caleb Scott
ADA — Sophomore Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) stopped three of five Otterbein penalty kicks to help the No. 13-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team advance to the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship match during Wednesday afternoon's semifinal matchup at Kerscher Stadium.
The contest goes down as a tie as the top-seed Polar Bears move to 16-1-2 overall and the fourth-seeded Cardinals move to 13-4-2.
Northern advances to the OAC Tournament Championship game for the 12th time in school history and will look to claim its second OAC Tournament title in school history.
Grierson was spectacular in the shootout as she was able to stop the first Otterbein PK before junior Sarah Puntel (Strongsville) capitalized on her PK to give ONU a 1-0 advantage after the first two kicks.
From there, Grierson would stop two of the next four OU shots, while seniors Hannah Reich (Howell, Mich.) and Anna Niemeyer (Loveland) each found the back of the net help ONU advance to the tournament final.
Northern was able to pressure the Cardinals defense from the start outshooting the visitors 5-1 in the first half.
After a scoreless first half, the Cardinals struck in the first minute of the second half to take a 1-0 lead.
In the 55th minute, sophomore Hannah Martin (Mason/Mount Notre Dame) and freshman Megan Breier (Plainfield, Ill./North) teamed up to find senior Mary Kate Munz (Gahanna/Lincoln), who scored the equalizer to force overtime.
Northern came out firing in the two overtime periods, outshooting the Cardinals 7-1, but could not manage to find the back of the net as the teams ended the contest in a 1-1 draw.
The Polar Bears were able to prevail in the shootout to keep their OAC Tournament Championship hopes alive.
"This team showed a ton of character tonight," said head coach Mark Batman. "I thought we were pretty dominate for the majority of the game and I'm really proud with how we responded. After giving up an early second half goal, the girls didn't put their heads down. They kept fighting and were really resilient. Meagan was incredible for us down the stretch. She hasn't been called on too much this season with the way our defense has been playing, but when she is called upon she is great. She really played like a championship goalie tonight. We are incredibly proud of this group."
As the No. 1 seed in the OAC Tournament, the Polar Bears will be the hosts of the OAC Tournament Championship game and will take on the winner of the other semifinal contest between No. 2-seeded Capital and No. 3-seeded John Carroll at 2 pm.