UNIVERSITY CENTER - The Saginaw Valley State University women's soccer team, currently ranked #18 in the nation, hosted the Ferris State University Bulldogs at Braddock Field for a GLIAC matchup on Friday afternoon (10/10). The Lady Cardinals claimed a 2-1 victory over the visitors as sophomore forward Ashley Henderson scored two goals to help lead the team to victory.
It was the second meeting of the 2014 season between the two teams, as the first non-conference match resulted in a 1-1 tie on September 14th in Big Rapids.
The first half of Friday's match saw both teams play excellent defense. There was only a combined six shots, with only three of those shots coming on goal. The teams headed into the half with the score tied 0-0.
The Cardinals put more offensive pressure on the Bulldogs in the second half. About 14 minutes into the second half, sophomore Ashley Henderson received a great crossing pass from Jenny Goethals and she would head in her first goal of the game at the 59:03 mark to give the Cardinals the lead, 1-0.
Ferris State would answer after SVSU committed a foul in the goal box, giving the Bulldogs a penalty shot at the 67:57 mark. Abby Meirndorf put one past goalkeeper Claire Spleth to tie the game, 1-1. It was only the fourth goal that Spleth has allowed this year.
SVSU answered later in the contest on their own penalty shot opportunity. Henderson would take the shot for the Cardinals at the 83:39 mark and put one in the right side of the net past the Bulldog goalkeeper. It was Henderson's second goal of the game and her team-leading seventh goal of the year. She ranks third in the GLIAC with the seven goals.
The Cardinal defense stood strong the rest of the way and Spleth made one of her four saves with 1:03 remaining to help preserve the 2-1 victory. She improves her record to 8-0-2 on the season in net, as she led the nation in save percentage (.940) heading into the match and had the ninth-best goals-against-average in the country (0.318). As a team, the Cardinal defense had the seventh-best goal-against-average in the nation with the .318 mark.
"We knew from our previous game with Ferris this season that today would be a tough encounter and we were not wrong," said SVSU head coach Michael O'Neill. "We wanted to prove to ourselves that we had made strides since that game and I thought we did that in every department. Defensively we were very strong and we felt a little hard done by to concede the PK. Offensively we looked dangerous all game and if I am being totally honest we felt we could of added one or two more goals. The most impressive part about today was after we conceded the goal, the girls stood firm in tough times and their hard work and togetherness were rewarded with the game winner from Ashley. We proved a lot to ourselves today and we are all eagerly awaiting the challenge against a very tough GVSU team on Sunday."
Saginaw Valley improves its record to 8-0-2 overall and 6-0-1 in the GLIAC while the Bulldogs fall to 2-6-2 overall and 1-4-1 in GLIAC play. The eight victories surpasss SVSU's win total of seven last year with five regular season matches left.
The Cardinals return to action when they travel to face the nationally third-ranked Grand Valley State University Lakers on Sunday (10/12) in Allendale, Michigan. The match is schedule to start at 1:00 pm and can be viewed on TV on Xfinity Channel 900.