Scott Gustafson scored on a free kick in the 24th minute and Davidson Graham added an insurance goal late as the Grizzlies clinched their second straight Midwestern League championship with a 2-0 win over Springfield at Walter A. Phillips Field on Saturday afternoon.
Gustafson put Ashland (8-3-2, 6-1-1 MWL) on top with a stellar 20-yard blast, bending it around the wall and inside the near post to give the Grizzlies the only goal they would need.
Ashland goalkeeper Gabriel Giancarlo made two great saves to keep the Grizzlies in front, and in the 79th minute Graham clinched the game and the league title for Ashland. The freshman fired a shot from close which the Springfield keeper could only deflect, and Graham’s follow crossed the line for the goal.
Ashland, which could have slid all the way to fourth place in the final MWL standings with a loss, also received outstanding performances from Samuel Austin and Milan Pyle. The fifth-ranked Grizzlies will host 12th-ranked Wilsonville in the first round of the 16-team 5A state tournament Tuesday.
Springfield (8-2-4, 5-1-2) had a six-match unbeaten streak snapped.
ASHLAND 2, SPRINGFIELD 0: At Ashland, Lily Annen scored on a great hustle play and Emmeline Clarke took advantage of Nicole Mullen’s perfect through pass as Ashland finished its season on a high note at Walter A. Phillips Field.
In the 66th minute, Karis Lee took a free kick from outside the box that the keeper couldn’t handle, and Annen swooped in for the follow, giving the Grizzlies (4-7-2, 3-3-2 MWL) the 1-0 lead.
Ashland, which finished sixth in the MWL, put the game away in the 78th, as Mullens threaded the needle through a crowd of defenders to Clark, who drove into the box and calmly finished. Ashland won or tied four of its last five games.
Springfield (5-7-2, 4-3-1) finished fifth in the MWL.