By Caleb Scott
GENEVA, N.Y. — Freshman Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) scored less than 30 seconds into the overtime period of the NCAA Div. III Tournament to help the No. 14-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team earn its first Elite 8 berth in school history as the Polar Bears took down No. 2-ranked William Smith (N.Y.) 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Cozzens Field.
The Polar Bears improve to 20-1-2 overall, while the Herons end their season at 19-2-0.
The two defensive minded teams held true to their style of play as the first half saw a combined eight shots and ended in a 0-0 tie.
After a series of William Smith shots, senior Mary Kate Munz (Gahanna/Lincoln) found herself in a great position as she was able to clear a near goal off the line in the 71st minute to keep the contest locked at 0-0.
Northern had two near misses on goal in the final five minutes of regulation, but would force overtime as the Polar Bear defense continued to be resilient.
The Polar Bears wasted no time in the overtime period as freshman Sydney Leshnak (Liberty Township/Mount Notre Dame) cleared an offensive attack from the Herons and found a wide open Fuller who turned on the jets and beat the WS keeper to seal the 1-0 victory.
Sophomore Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) had another solid outing as she recorded four saves and recorded her school-record 14th shutout of the season.
William Smith won the shot total by a 13-9 margin, and won the corner kick battle by a 7-4 mark.
"We are just really proud of this group," said head coach Mark Batman. "William Smith (N.Y.) is good for a reason and that was a quality win for us. They have had a lot of experience in this position and they have a great tradition. I'm really proud of how the girls didn't let that get to big for them. I felt like we got better as the game went on. It doesn't have to be pretty to move on, just effective and what we did worked. We have to come prepared tomorrow to one of two very good teams."
The Polar Bears move onto the quarterfinal round of the 2017 NCAA Div. III Tournament and will take on the winner of the second sectional game of the afternoon between No. 9-ranked Carnegie Mellon (Pa.) and No. 5-ranked Hardin-Simmons (Tex.).