Hoping to recover from a disappointing loss to #2 Simon Fraser, Slippery Rock played host to non-conference opponent Ashland University (Oh.) on Wednesday. The Rock suffered its third defeat of the season as the Eagles prevailed, 2-0.
AU started goaltender Ameer Mubarak in place of regular Dimitrius Karousos, who had played every minute in goal through the Eagles’ first five games, recording 29 saves. Slippery Rock outshot the Eagles 5-4 in the first period, but neither the Rock nor the Eagles were able to get the ball into the net.
Slippery Rock experienced a slow start, allowing Ashland to register their first four shots within the fifth and sixth minutes of the game.
“We should have been down probably two- or three-nothing,” head coach Steve Small stated. “But, we were fortunate that we played that bad in the first half and we were still tied, 0-0.”
SRU’s shots came later in the half, off the feet of senior midfielder Tyler McCarthy, freshman forward Sean Tinney and junior midfielder Anthony Werth. Two subsequent header shots were also unable to hit their mark.
Slippery Rock opened the second half by controlling possession for almost three minutes. Small expected the strong opening, saying, “We had a great run to start the second half. For the first five, ten minutes, we were fantastic and everything just went out the window again.”
Ten minutes after the start of the period, Ashland put a goal on the board with an easy tap-in header from Andrew Pearson. It was his third score of the campaign, assisted by Jordan Dees. The Rock came close to knotting the game up two minutes later when junior midfielder George Oakley put a shot on target from 15 yards out that was saved by AU’s Mubarak. Oakley got another chance in the 66th minute, but the ball sailed over the net.
The game was put further out of reach for the Rock when Ashland’s Jacob Koehler added to his team’s lead in the 76th minute.
The 2-0 score would be the mark the game would end at, with AU claiming the victory. Of his team’s lack of offensive production, Small said, “Shots are shots, but it’s more the quality of the shots [that matters]. We were hitting shots from 35 yards out that the goalkeeper was trapping with his feet […] we need a lot more quality chances and we need to put them away.”
SRU has begun conference play and Small sees the early season as an opportunity to get on track. “There’s a lot we need to work on to get better. Just a lot of individual accountability […] It starts at the top with myself and then the rest of the guys. We’ve got to figure it out now that we’re going into PSAC play.”