Women's Soccer advances to Sweet 16 round of 2017 NCAA Div. III Tournament for first time in school history

Women's Soccer advances to Sweet 16 round of 2017 NCAA Div. III Tournament for first time in school history

By Caleb Scott

| NCAA III Tournament Site |

ADA — For the first time in school history, the No. 14-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the 2017 NCAA Div. III Women's Soccer Tournament as it kept its season alive and defeated No. 20-ranked Illinois Wesleyan 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at Kerscher Stadium.

The Polar Bears improve to 19-1-2 overall, while the Titans end their season at 17-5-0.

Junior Sarah Puntel (Strongsville) led the way for ONU as she scored both goals of the contest, while sophomore Rose Nienaber (Cincinnatti/Oak Hills) tallied an assist for Northern.

A strong second half propelled the Polar Bears to victory, as Puntel notched both goals in the final period.

After scoreless first half, Nienaber dropped a pass to Puntel from the left wing and Puntel sent a strike to the upper right hand corner of the goal from 20 yards out to give ONU the lead in the 48th minute.

In the 72nd minute, Puntel gathered a loose ball after a header from freshman Sydney Leshnak (Liberty Township/Mount Notre Dame) was blocked and put the ball away to seal the 2-0 Polar Bear victory.

Sophomore Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) posted her 13th shutout of the season and 19th career shutout, moving into a tie for fifth all-time at Oho Northern. The sophomore tallied four saves for ONU.

The Polar Bear offense pressured IWU throughout the the contest, outshooting the guests 19-6. ONU would also win the corner kick battle by a 8-0 margin.

"Again, I'm just really proud of this group," said head coach Mark Batman. "They beat a very good Illinois Wesleyan team today and played very well. Sarah really stepped up today. She has been battling an illness all week and she came ready to play. The next part of this bracket gets tough. At this point you're not going to run into any bad teams. We are excited to be moving on and look forward the next challenge."

The Polar Bears will look to continue their winning ways in the NCAA Tournament as they battle No. 2-ranked William Smith (N.Y.) in the Sweet 16 round on Nov. 18. The time and location of the contest have yet to be determined and will be released at a later time.