By Caleb Scott
ADA — The No. 13-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team won its second Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship in school history on Saturday afternoon, and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III Tournament as it defeated Capital 2-0 at Kerscher Stadium.
The No. 1-seeded Polar Bears improve to 17-1-2 overall, while the No. 2-seeded Crusaders fall to 10-8-1.
With the OAC Tournament championship match victory, the Polar Bears earn the conference's automatiuc bid to the NCAA III Tournament.
Freshmen Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) and Siena Ward (Newport Beach, Cal./Newport Harbor) led ONU offensively as each scored a goal, while junior Sarah Puntel (Strongsville) and sophomore Rose Nienaber (Cincinnatti/Oak Hills) each added an assist.
The Polar Bears struck early in the contest as Nienaber had a breakaway and played a cross from the left wing, where Fuller received the pass and found the back of the net to give ONU a 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the contest.
ONU would continue to put pressure on the Crusaders throughout the first half, outshooting CU 13-5.
In the second half, Capital would show life offensively, putting up seven shots to Ohio Northern's three shots.
After a penalty by the Crusaders, Puntel used the set piece to play a ball into the penalty box area, where Ward was able to play a beautiful header into the net and help seal the 2-0 victory.
"We are super proud of this whole group," said head coach Mark Batman. "This is the first time in program history that they have won both the OAC Regular Season title and tournament title in the same year so this means a lot. We talked about that first weekend of the season and where we were at and the transformation that we have made. We are just really proud of the way are girls are playing and the way they keep fighting."
Northern outshot CU 16-12 and was edged in the corner kick battle by a 6-5 margin.
Sophomore Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) earned the victory in the net to improve her record to 17-1-2 on the year after posting four saves.
The Polar Bears will await the NCAA III Selection Show on Monday, Nov. 6 to see where, when and who they play in the NCAA III Tournament.