By Blake Moore
ADA - The Ohio Northern women's soccer program picked up its eighth successive win Wednesday evening as the Polar Bears toppled the visiting Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets 5-1 in Ohio Athletic Conference play at Kerscher Stadium in Ada.
The victory moves Northern to 8-2-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the OAC this season. Meanwhile, Baldwin Wallace falls to 6-4-1 on the season, including a 0-2-0 mark in league play.
Despite a staggering 34-3 shots advantage, the Polar Bears would find themselves down early in the match. Baldwin Wallace senior forward and current leading goal-scorer Rachel Bender would give the guests the lead in the sixth minute as she netted her seventh goal of the season on a strike from just outside the penalty box.
Bender's score would be the first goal conceded by Ohio Northern since a September 2 matchup against then-ranked #23 Illinois Wesleyan. Since then, the Polar Bears have reeled off seven consecutive shutouts, tying the previous school record for consecutive shutouts set in the 1991 and 2017 regular seasons.
However, ONU would recover quickly from the deficit as sophomore forward and reigning OAC Offensive Player of the Week Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) would respond just 31 seconds later. She notched her conference-leading 10th goal of the season in the seventh minute, tapping in a shot that rebounded off Yellow Jackets goalkeeper Emma Bruno. Sophomore Megan Breier (Plainfield, Ill./North) would record the assist after creating the initial chance.
Junior forward Rose Nienaber (Cincinnati/Oak Hills) was next on the scoresheet for Ohio Northern after scoring what would be the eventual game-winning goal in the 18th minute. She posted her first goal of the 2018 season after she tapped in a rebounded shot off the foot of senior forward McKenna Welsh (Westerville/Bishop Hartley), who registered her third assist this year on the play.
Welsh joined in on the first-half scoring barrage in the 28th minute when she side-stepped a defender and found herself open from just inside the penalty box. She netted her third goal of the season, curling a shot inside the far post.
Forward Emma Barney (Oak Harbor) would extend the Ohio Northern lead to 4-1 just before the halftime break in the 39th minute. The sophomore's long-range brace would beat the visiting netminder from 25 yards out for her second score of the year.
The second half would see the Polar Bears notch one final tally in the 74th minute, courtesy of an Anne Major (Okemos, Mich.) chip shot from 15 yards away. Barney and freshman Audrey Spirk (Bellbrook) would create the scoring opportunity, allowing Major to find space inside the penalty area for her second goal of the 2018 campaign.
Fuller would lead Ohio Northern with six shots on the evening while Welsh, Nienaber, and junior defender Hannah Martin (Mason/Mount Notre Dame) would register four shots each.
In net, junior netminder Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) would register her eighth consecutive victory. She would record one save in the match, conceding just one goal on the night.
With the win, the Polar Bears have now won 18 consecutive OAC regular season matches dating back to the 2016 season.
Ohio Northern will return to action this Saturday afternoon as they welcome in Ohio Athletic Conference foe Muskingum. Match time is slated for 1 p.m. at Kerscher Stadium in Ada.