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Big Red knocks off #22 OWU, clinches NCAC berth

Dylan Brown  |  Photo by Brett Dunbar
Dylan Brown | Photo by Brett Dunbar

DELAWARE, Ohio—Denison held on for a 2-1 victory over No. 22 Ohio Wesleyan to punch their ticket to the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament. 

Denison entered the match needing either a tie or a win against the Battling Bishops to advance to the postseason.  The Big Red took an early 1-0 lead in the 11th minute when Dan Milhollen centered a pass to the head of Leo Herard to scored on the Big Red's first shot attempt of the night.

The remaining 79 minutes is best compared to a person walking on a tightrope at the circus.  Ohio Wesleyan was on the attack throughout, outshooting the Big Red 18-1 in the first half and 16-3 in the second.

Big Red goalkeeper Dylan Brown and the Denison backline were on their game.  Brown posted seven saves in the first half and four critical saves down the stretch in the second half to secure the victory.

In the 75th minute, Stu Windell scored on a header via a free kick from Ryan Albers.  That put Denison up 2-0 for the time being.  Three minutes later, Ohio Wesleyan's Antonio Romanelli converted a penalty kick after a Denison foul in the box to make it a 2-1 DU advantage.

The Big Red almost made it a 3-1 match in the 81st minute when Eric Buer's shot had to be saved by an OWU defender.  In the final eight minutes of the match, Romanelli fired a rocket that sailed just wide left.  Matt Yingling's pair of shots were on-goal but turned away by Brown.  In the 87th minute, OWU attempted a corner kick but couldn't draw a shot.

This marks Denison's first win over Ohio Wesleyan since 2009.  That win came in overtime of the NCAC Tournament Championship match when the Battling Bishops were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

With the win, Denison will be the No. 3 seed in next week's NCAC Tournament, setting up a rematch with second-seeded Ohio Wesleyan on Wednesday (Oct. 31) at 7 p.m. in Delaware.