ALLENDALE, Mich. — The Saginaw Valley State Women's Soccer team took down Ashland in the GLIAC semifinals, with an exciting shootout victory. The Cardinals and Eagles remained scoreless in double-overtime and SVSU finished out the contest with a 3-1 advantage in penaly kicks. The team has now knocked off the two of the three top teams in the tournament, beating No. 3 Ferris State on Tuesday and now taking down No. 2 Ashland on Friday.
Both teams were slow to start in the first half, posting only one shot on goal total that was earned by Ashland. The Eagles out-shot the Cardinals 3-2 in the opening minutes of play.
Second half brought much more aggression to the game as Saginaw Valley posted eight shots, half of them on target. Ashland returned by adding two shots on goal, but both were stopped by SVSU goalkeeper, Abby Divozzo. The score remained knotted up as the regulation time came to an end, 0-0.
During the first overtime, the Cardinals held the Eagles to no shots the entire 10 minutes of play, while posting three of their own. With none of the goals entering the back of net, the teams headed into double overtime.
Saginaw Valley stayed on top throught the second overtime, posting a 2-1 lead in shots, but again, could not find a way to get the ball inside the posts.
After 110 minutes of play, the teams remained scoreless and headed into the first shootout of the season for the Cardinals.
Alexis Hilliard took the first PK of the night, but missed the shot high and wide for the Cardinals. Ashland's Kelsey McKernan grabbed the next PK, but struggled to find the net after the ball headed high over the posts.
Valentina Giambanco was up next for the Cardinals and she snagged the first goal of the night by sliding one in the bottom left corner to go up 1-0 in penalty kicks. The Eagles Morgan Bittengle responded by posting a PK goal to knot up the score, 1-1.
Whitney Fleming was next up to the box and dropped a great goal inside the target to take a 2-1 lead over Ashland. Divozzo held her ground inside the net by stopping the third shot of the night by the Eagles, heading into what looked to be the final round of PK's.
Senior Ingrid Hannevig rounded out the last PK of the night, by notching one inside the bottom left side corner. With Divozzo making yet another great save against the Eagles final man, the Cardinals broke the tiebraker by a 3-1 count in the shootout to advance to the finals for the first time since 2012.
This semifinal victory was also the first time head coach Michael O'Neill has lead a team to the finals as a Cardinal.
Inside the Box Score:
• Divozzo posted three saves.
• The Cardinals posted their first shootout victory of the 2017 campaign.
• Saginaw Valley posted 15 shots, four on goal.
• Fleming and Giambanco both lead the team in shots with four each.
• Sakura Bals added two shots.
• Hilliard, Jennifer Muana, Amanda Minissale and Whitney Fleming all grabbed a shot on goal.
From head coach Michael O'Neill
The Cardinals will take on Grand Valley State University on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. for the GLIAC Tournament Championships at GVSU. The Lakers are coming off a 8-0 semifinal win over Tiffin on Friday.
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