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Marietta College men’s soccer ousts Ohio Northern, advances to OAC Semifinals

ADA — Marietta College played a near flawless match on defense as the Pioneers defeated Ohio Northern University by the score of 2-0 Tuesday evening in the quarterfinal round of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament.

“They put one on us in the league opener but in my heart I knew we were better than we showed. As a coach, I let them down in that game with a poor adjustment,” Marietta head coach Joe Bergin said. “This time we trusted our guys and they delivered. Very few thought we could do this, but our guys believed and they were the only ones that mattered. A am very proud of our players and staff. We live to play another day.”

The Pioneers, seeded sixth, improve to 10-8-1 on the season after upsetting No. 3 seed Ohio Northern (13-6-2 overall). Marietta advances to the semifinals on Thursday and will play at top-seeded John Carroll University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MC is making its third semifinal appearance under Bergin.

Anchored by senior Sebastian Ziaja and junior keeper Dakota Penquite, the Pioneer defense limited Ohio Northern to one shot on goal. Ziaja, sophomore Blake Holtman and freshmen Dave Beattie and Elliot Britton frustrated the Polar Bears all night. The frustration showed in the second half when ONU was issued four yellow cards.

Marietta wasted little time grabbing the lead and ratcheting up the pressure on the Polar Bears. Reigning OAC Offensive Player of the Week Luke Maher scored a hard-earned goal in the 13th minute. His fourth of the season.

Freshman Jovonni Auddino sent a through ball forward to Maher who took the ball into the 18-yard box. With ONU keeper John Lombardo charging off his line, Maher got a shot off just before a nasty collision with Lombardo at the left corner of the 6-yard box. Maher’s shot slipped inside the far post for the game winner.

The goal was costly for Maher and the Pioneers as the senior was unable to continue and left for the remainder of the match.

Both defenses were dominant limiting shots to well outside the 18-yard box. Marietta launched a perfect counter attack for its second goal of the night. Ohio Northern’s Levi King had a shot blocked by the Pioneer defense and a long pass from Robert Phillips found an open Gavin Long.

Long outraced the Polar Bear defenders who were pushed up on the attack and found himself one-on-one with Lombardo. Long found the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season and sealed the victory for Marietta with less than four minutes left on the clock.

Penquite notched his third clean sheet of the season. He did not have a save but directed the Marietta back line beautifully all evening. Lombardo had three saves in goal for the Polar Bears.

Ohio Northern outshot the Pioneers, 11-8, but Marietta held a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal. The Polar Bears took four corner kicks to just one for Marietta.

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