By: Tim Glon
ADA — The ninth-ranked and top-seeded Ohio Northern men's soccer team shut out fifth-seeded Mount Union 6-0 to advance to the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Finals behind a hat trick from senior Christian Huelsman at the ONU Soccer Field on Wednesday afternoon.
The Polar Bears will host the winner of Wednesday night's game between second-seeded Baldwin-Wallace and third-seeded John Carroll on Saturday.
If ONU's top-seeded and No. 12-ranked women's soccer team wins its OAC Tournament semifinal match on Thursday, the ONU men will phost the OAC Tournament finals at Noon as part of a men's=women's doubleheader.
If the ONU women fall on Thursday, the ONU men will host the OAC finals at 2 pm at the ONU Soccer Field.
Ohio Northern also improves to 17-2-2 with its ninth straight win, while the Purple Raiders end their season with a 10-8-2 record.
After more than 25 scoreless minutes of play, the Polar Bears struck quickly with three goals in less than five minutes and five goals in less than 20 minutes.
In the 26th minute, junior Nate Bascom put in his team-leading 14th goal of the year when he scored from point-blank range off assists from senior Greg Stawicki and sophomore Matt Fleming.
A throw-in from junior Craig Sumner led to a breakaway goal for fellow junior Cameron Johnson in the 29th minute, his 11th of the season.
Huelsman recorded his first goal of the day less than a minute later, when he headed in a free kick from junior Austin Windsor to put ONU ahead 3-0.
Senior Cory Dobkins drilled a shot from 25 yards out to beat the keeper in the 35th minute, with Huelsman notching his lone assist of the game.
Huelsman closed out the first half with a one-timer of his own from 20 yards, beating the keeper far post for his second goal of the day, assisted by senior Robert Sellers and junior Chris Matejka.
A nice pass from sophomore Michael Grossnickle opened Huelsman up for a breakaway, where he beat the goalie for his third goal of the day and ninth of the season to record his third career hat trick as a Polar Bear, pushing the lead to 6-0 in the 74th minute.
The shutout was the 12th of the season for ONU, tying a school record set in 2006. Junior Mac Church earned his 11th shutout of the season, one away from tying current assistant coach Aaron Collins' record of 12 individual shutouts in a year.
With the assist, Huelsman moves into third place in program history with 29 career assists. He also increases his points scored all-time to 133, eight better than former record holder and current head coach Brent Ridenour.
"This was a big win and it's great to be back in the OAC Tournament Finals," Ridenour said. "Our defense played great once again and our offense stepped up, too, against a good Mount Union team."