The Ashland University men's soccer team finally got the breakthrough it had been seeking since the start of the season, picking up a hard-earned 1-0 win over visiting Northern Michigan on Friday (Sept. 27) evening at Ferguson Field.
Redshirt-sophomore striker Kieran Paterson scored the game's lone goal early in the second half and the Eagles (1-5, 1-2 GLIAC) kept the Wildcats (3-4, 2-1 GLIAC) off the board to hand them their first conference defeat of the year.
"It was nice to ground them out," said AU head coach Oliver Slawson. "We feel like we probably could have scored one or two more. You can't pick and choose where your points are coming from. Probably four of the five games before tonight we felt we should have had a similar type result."
The Wildcats had more of the possession in the first half, but the Eagles had the better chances, putting several shots just wide or over the frame.
After halftime, Slawson inserted senior captain John Duldner into the game and the tide turned in possession. It led almost immediately to a goal as the skipper won the ball in the midfield and tapped a ball over the top for Paterson, who settled it with his head, then tucked it off the right post and over the line for his second goal of the season.
"I think you saw overall the issues we had at the start of the year – the issues we can't control – they're starting to come back in our favor," Slawson said. "Jordan (Dees) is back on the field, Duldner's back on the field. Those two help because of their experience and the lads around them. Zach Bruni with his first collegiate start tonight and was brilliant."
Ashland had more of the possession in the second half and the Wildcats were less dangerous coming forward after the intermission. Redshirt-sophomore Marshall Ney picked up his first collegiate shutout by making five saves.
The Eagles still could have added to their lead, but Slawson came away pleased with his team's performance.
"The credit goes to the guys for grinding it out, keeping a clean sheet, getting a goal and creating chances," he said. "We knew it was coming."
The Eagles will look to build off their win on Sunday (Sept. 29) when they play host to Parkside at 2:30 p.m. at Ferguson Field.