By Bud Denega
ADA — It took north of 87 minutes, but the 17th-ranked Ohio Northern women's soccer team pushed past John Carroll in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals Thursday at Kerscher Stadium. The top-seeded Polar Bears edged the No. 4-seeded Blue Streaks 1-0 to advance to the conference title game.
"All you need is one, and that's what we got," ONU head coach Mark Batman said. "Great resilience from the group. I'm really proud of them."
The title game will feature Northern and the winner between No. 3-seeded Otterbein and No. 2-seeded Capital. The contest will be played at Kerscher Stadium Saturday at a time yet to be determined.
ONU junior Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) netted the game's lone goal — her 19th of the season — in the 88th minute. She scored off a feed from sophomore Emma Barney (Oak Harbor). The goal is Fuller's 47th of her career, which moves her into fifth all-time in school history.
The Polar Bears recorded eight of their 17 shots in the opening half, but the offensive pressure didn't fruit a goal. That made Batman's message at halftime quite simple.
"We've taught them all season, just be patient," Batman said. "John Carroll is a really, really good team, and they made it really difficult offensively. We told our team at halftime to be patient, just keep trying to solve the puzzle. At some point somebody is going to make a mistake, and hopefully we capitalize on the mistake."
The Polar Bears created plenty more scoring opportunities in the final 45 minutes. Fuller ended the contest with five shots, freshman Lauren Naso (Grosse Ile, Mich.) had three and junior Megan Breier (Plainfield, Ill./North) recorded a pair.
The Blue Streaks ended the game with just three shots and none of them were on target. The shut out for ONU senior goaltender Megan Grierson's was her 10th of the season and 42nd of her career, which is tops in program history.
The Polar Bears — who are riding a 12-game win streak — will be making their 14th appearance in the OAC Championship match. Northern has played in each of the last five title games.