Lady Cards qualify for GLIAC tourney

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Last week, the SVSU women’s soccer team put up 10 goals and jumped up to a solid position to return to the GLIAC conference tournament.

This weekend, the Lady Cardinals officially qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2014 after they defeated Ashland on Friday, Oct. 20, before falling to Tiffin 1-0 on Sunday, Oct. 22, to split a weekend road trip to Ohio.

SVSU took on the Ashland Eagles in a rare night game under the lights. The Cardinals took home the win 2-1.

“We had a great team performance Friday night,” head coach Michael O’Neill said. “Ashland is a really tough opponent, and we knew it was going to be a hard game. The girls really fought from the first whistle to the last whistle and won individual battles across the field.”

The first 25 minutes was all SVSU. The Cards outshot the Eagles 6-0, with Molly Vanderhoff earning her fourth goal of the season 15 minutes into the game.

The Lady Cardinals continued to dominate the pitch, getting two more shots to Ashland’s one. However, a penalty kick in the 42nd minute gave the Eagles’ Morgan Bittengle her 11th goal of the season and Ashland’s first of the game.

All tied at one goal apiece, both teams traded shots at the goal within the first 20 minutes on the second half.

In the 69th minute, Saginaw Valley’s Whitney Fleming scored from a 25-yard boot that found the top right corner of the goal. The Lady Cardinals retook the lead 2-1.

“I knew exactly when (Fleming) drove the ball and took her shot that the ball was going in,” senior forward Krisitin Syrowik said. “(Fleming’s) been working extremely hard on her finishing this year, and that score was a result of that. From that moment on, we knew that the defense could hold on to win the game.”

SVSU was able to control any chances that Ashland had to level the score and held them to just three shots for the rest of the game.

“We walked off that field feeling very proud of ourselves and our performance,” O’Neill said. “We came away with a huge victory against a very good Ashland team.”

With the 2-1 victory, the Cards locked in a spot in the GLIAC conference tournament.

“We feel like we have every right to be in the GLIAC tournament on a yearly basis,” O’Neill said. “But it hasn’t been promised in previous years, and this is a huge accomplishment. We don’t want our season to end, and if we have more games like we did (against Ashland), we will keep getting that one extra game.”

Following qualification, the team fell to Tiffin 1-0 on Sunday.

SVSU outshot the Dragons 16-9, but nine saves from Tiffin goal keeper Samantha Ortenzi kept the Cardinals off of the scoreboard.

SVSU also had nine corner kicks to Tiffin’s two.

After SVSU had a majority of the chances early in the first half, the Dragons ended the half with three shots in the final three minutes.

Then, Tiffin broke the tie in the 83rd minute, when forward Svetlana Gudenkova shot on an empty net for the unassisted goal.

An 85th-minute shot from SVSU’s Zo Schultz was the Cardinals’ last chance of the match, but Ortenzi made her ninth save of the match to seal the win for the Dragons.

SVSU will host Northwood on Friday, Oct. 27, to finish out the regular season.

The rival Timberwolves will enter the contest with a record of just 4-10-1 overall following a 3-0 loss to Ashland on Sunday.

The Cardinals will continue into postseason play on Oct. 31.

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