CLINTON, Iowa - The Ashford University women's soccer team is one step closer to a second-straight appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.
The third-seeded Saints were victorious in their Midwest Collegiate Conference quarterfinal matchup on Saturday, knocking off Viterbo in a physical contest, 1-0.
"We knew this would be a physical game," Saints Head Coach Mick Regan said afterwards. "They battled us the same way in our first meeting and I felt we did a good job handling the physicality."
The Saints got the game's lone goal in the fifth minute, when sophomore Hollie Babut corralled a pass from junior Chelsea Fisher and put her shot over the top of goalkeeper Carley Esser for her team-leading 15th goal of the year.
From there, the defenses took over, and the scoring chances were sparse for the remainder of the game. The Saints were especially stingy, as all of Viterbo's six shots on goal came from long distance. When the ball got in close, the V-Hawks were kept in check, and that was one of the biggest reasons for the Saints' success.
"They have a very good offense," Regan said. "They have players that can create and our defense was outstanding in not letting them get behind us. Any shots that they took didn't come easy. Our defense deserves much of the credit for today's win."
The Saints outshot the V-Hawks, 11-6 and held an advantage in corner kicks, 6-3. Junior goalkeeper Jerika Castillo recorded her eighth shutout of the season in the win, stopping all six shots she faced. Esser was especially strong for the V-Hawks, stopping 10 shots in a losing effort.
Babut led the Saints in shots on goal, putting six shots on Esser. Viterbo was led in shots by Jordan Lott, who fired three shots at Castillo.
With the first game in the books, the Saints can now turn their attention to the MCC semi-finals, where they will face off with the second-seeded Queen Bees of St. Ambrose on Saturday, Nov. 5. The Saints' lone MCC loss came at the hands of the Queen Bees back on Oct. 12.