By Bud Denega
ADA — A few days ago, Ohio Northern's Meagan Grierson (Dayton/Miamisburg) carved her name into the Ohio Athletic Conference record books becoming the first player to ever win Goalkeeper of the Year honors four consecutive years. On Sunday, Grierson's steady hand extended the Polar Bears' season.
"Going into penalty kicks, we are super confident with Meagan in goal," ONU senior Haley Moses said. "She has won games for us in PKs before, and we knew she was going to be great back there."
Northern defeated Scranton (Pa.) 4-2 in penalty kicks Sunday at Kerscher Stadium to clinch a spot in the Sweet 16. The Polar Bears will battle the winner of Carnegie Mellon (Pa.)/Swarthmorth (Pa.) — a game played at 7 p.m. Sunday — at a location that's yet to be determined.
"We are just so excited and so grateful for the opportunity," Moses said. "We love our team so much, and we love our coaches, and we can't wait to spend another week with them and hopefully more."
Grierson turned away shots from Scranton's Mazie Stiles, who shot second, and Grace Elliott, who shot third. Senior Rose Nienaber (Cincinnati/Oak Hills), sophomore Carissa Beckham (Mason/Mount Notre Dame), junior Jenna Fuller (Countryside, Ill./Lyons Township) and Moses (Mason) all made penalty kicks for ONU. Moses' kick sealed the victory, as the Polar Bears' began the shootout on offense.
"Ice in the veins," ONU head coach Mark Batman said. "The girls were great."
Scoring chances were hard to come by throughout the game, but Batman felt as though his team created more as the contest wore on. The Polar Bears finished the game with 18 shots — six on target — and 13 of those 18 shots occurred in the second half or overtime.
"Great resilience from the group," ONU head coach Mark Batman said. "I felt we got a lot more dangerous as the game went on and got more comfortable with how they were trying to play us."
Fuller finished with a game-high five shots. Nienaber logged three shots, while Moses, freshman Lauren Naso (Grosse Ile, Mich.), and junior Sydney Leshnak (Cincinnati/Mount Notre Dame) all had two shots apiece.
The Royals registered eight shots — five of which were on frame — and only four of those eight shots occurred in the final 65 minutes.
Grierson finished the game with five saves and the theatrics during penalty kicks. The shut out is the program-leading 44th of her career.
Scranton goalie Amanda Steinberg recorded five saves, as well.
This marks the second time the Polar Bears have advanced past the second round of the NCAA Tournament. ONU made it to the Elite Eight in 2017.