By Blake Moore
ADA — For the 250-plus spectators at Kerscher Stadium, Wednesday evening's pivotal OAC showdown between the No. 23-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team and the Otterbein Cardinals did not disappoint, treating fans to an exciting 2-2, double-overtime draw in a battle of the league's two remaining unbeaten programs.
Following the draw, both teams move to 13-2-1 overall and to 7-0-1 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The two programs remain tied atop the conference standings with one match remaining in the regular season.
Northern trailed twice in Wednesday evening's contest, but responded with equalizers from sophomores Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) and Sydney Leshnak (Liberty Township/Mount Notre Dame).
After 21 minutes of scoreless action, the Cardinals struck first when Priscilla Severance chipped a shot over junior goalkeeper Meagan Grierson (Miamisburg) from 20 yards away. The goal would stand as the lone score in the first half, allowing the visitors to take a 1-0 advantage into the intermission.
In the 65th minute, Fuller brought a raucous home crowd to their feet as she put Ohio Northern on the scoreboard for the first time to equalize. The sophomore forward broke away from the Cardinal defense and headed home her 15th goal of the season on a cross from sophomore midfielder Abigail Mathews (Liberty Township/Lakota East).
With her goal, Fuller now stands alone as the conference's and team's leading goal-scorer.
However, Otterbein would continue to apply heavy offensive pressure after conceding their first goal. Following a Delaney Earl delivery, Severance would register her second goal from six yards away. She would tuck the strike just inside the left goal post to provide the Cardinals with their second lead of the night.
Moments later, Ohio Northern would earn a corner kick, one of their six opportunities in the conference affair. Junior Haley Moses (Mason) supplied a beautiful cross into the box, which was subsequently headed in by Leshnak, her first brace in 2018.
In the two overtime periods, ONU would register five shots and prevented a single shot attempt from Otterbein. Despite the opportunities, no team would break the tie, keeping both programs undefeated in league play.
Fuller would pace Ohio Northern offensively with eight shot attempts Wednesday evening. Senior McKenna Welsh (Westerville/Bishop Hartley) was next in line with five with classmate Sarah Puntel (Strongsville) close behind with four chances.
In net, Grierson would make two saves in the match.
The Polar Bears would outshoot their midweek guests 26-15 overall, including an 8-4 shots on goal advantage. In addition, Northern collected six corner kicks while the Cardinals earned five.
With the draw, ONU has clinched a first-round bye in the OAC Tournament and semifinal round hosting rights on Thursday, November 1.
Ohio Northern will wrap up the 2018 regular season this Saturday, October 27 as they host Mount Union at Kerscher Stadium for Senior Day. With a win in Saturday's contest, the Polar Bears can capture at least a share of the OAC Regular Season crown. Match time is set for 1 p.m. in Ada.