ATHENS, Ohio— The Ohio women's soccer team (7-9-2, 4-4-2 MAC) plays its final regular season match Thursday, Oct. 26 against reigning Mid-American Conference champions Kent State (12-5-1, 8-2-0 MAC). Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio.
The match will be the fifth time Ohio has faced off against Kent State under Aaron Rodgers and the 25th time in program history. The Golden Flashes haven't loss to the Bobcats since 2009 when Ohio won 1-0 in overtime. The match is a strong mental test for the Bobcats who haven't had a win in three outings.
"We know that we can beat anyone in this conference when we are at our best," Rodgers said. "We need a win, but we also know that we need to focus fully on the things that we can control. And that is how we mentally approach the game, how much grit we have and how well we execute our game plan."
Like any match, the goal for this one boils down to getting the win, but in a crucial last match before the Mid-American Conference Championship, Ohio is looking to return to early-season form with a lock-down style of play. Rodgers said that his side needs to limit the opposition's chances while simultaneously capitalizing on the chances that the Bobcats create.
"The players are disappointed with our last result and performance and I know they are ready to prove the quality that we have," Rodgers said.
The Bobcats are coming off a 2-1 loss on Sunday against the Toledo Rockets. Allie Curry (Fairfield, Ohio) opened scoring in the 19th minute when Toledo's Madison Perrin mishandled the ball in front of the net. The goal was Curry's seventh of the year. The Rockets responded in the 32nd minute when Isa Echeverri sent in a rocket, beating Erin Beurket (Milford, Ohio) to the left. Toledo took the lead in the 54th minute when Alena Sidwell found space down low and placed a shot past Beurket, securing the victory. Ohio finished with three shots on goal through six shots, with Beurket making five saves on seven shots on goal. Toledo ended with 12 shots with seven on goal. Perrin recorded two saves.
"I think the difference in the match was the excellent energy that Toledo brought," Rodgers said after the loss. "The players understand that we are in a postseason mentality now. We know that a positive result guarantees us a MAC tournament spot. We have fought hard all year and know that we must dig deep to find our highest level of energy and all 25 team members can play a massive role in that."
With the MAC Championships starting on Sunday, Oct. 29, Thursday's match against the Golden Flashes has the potential to be a key force of momentum going into the postseason.
LAST TIME AGAINST KENT STATE
Ohio dropped a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker at Chessa Field to Kent State in the final match of last season. The match opened with the Bobcats taking the lead in the 17th minute when Alivia Milesky (Plain City, Ohio) headed in a corner. Kent responded in the 42nd minute when Morgan Williams found space to the right of goal, beating Beurket on a low shot. Madelyn Kah (Hamilton, Ohio) put Ohio back on top in the 52nd minute after Sydney Leckie (Medina, Ohio) played the ball to the center, allowing Kah to beat the keeper. The Golden Flashes fought back quickly, scoring two minutes later when Hayden Pascoe volleyed an overhead lob into net. Things stayed tight until the final three seconds of overtime when Pascoe curled in a slow flying shot past the outstretched fingertips of Beurket, securing Kent's victory. Ohio finished with six shots on goal through 10 shots. Beurket recorded four saves on seven shots on goal. Kent recorded 11 shots and put seven on frame. Ashleah McDonald stood in net for Kent, recording four saves through six shots on goal.
SCOUTING KENT STATE
Kent State is coming off a 3-1 loss on Sunday to Bowling Green that ended the Golden Flashes' five game winning streak. Vital Kats leads Kent in scoring with five goals on the season, four assists, 43 shots and three game-winning-goals. Isabelle Mihail is right being with four goals, two assists, 22 shots and three game-winning-goals. Eight other Golden Flashes have added to Kent State's 22 season goals. Top goalkeeper for Kent is McDonald who is 8-3-1 with six shutouts, seven goals allowed and 43 saves to give her a 0.62 GAA and 0.860 save percentage through 1010 minutes. Katie Kingsbury backs her up with a 4-2-0 record, four shutouts, five goals allowed and 25 saves to give her a 0.71 GAA and 0.833 save percentage through 630 minutes.
IN THE MAC
Ohio is sixth in the MAC for shots with 120 (12 per game) and third in points with 45 (4.50 per game). The Bobcats are also tied for second in goals with 16 (1.60 per game), fifth in assists with 13 (1.30 per game), tied for fourth in goals allowed with 11 (1.10 per game) and sixth in saves with 47 (4.70 per game).
The Bobcats have been awarded the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award for the 2016-17 school year. The Bobcats earned a 3.43 team grade point average. This is the seventh-straight year that the Bobcats have earned the honor, and the fifth time under current head coach, Aaron Rodgers.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ohio has swept the MAC Player of the Week awards. Jaggers was named the offensive player of the week for Sept. 25 while Malham took the defensive spot. Jaggers notched two game-winning goals over the weekend while recording five shots and four points in 112 minutes. Malham quickly found her spot on the Ohio squad and has been a brick wall in net. The freshman played all 180 minutes against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, logging 14 saves, a .933 save percentage and a .50 GAA while earning one shutout and allowing one goal. Malham's play helped the Bobcats come out over EMU for the first time since 2011 and CMU for the first time since 2008.
The Mid-American Conference Championships begin on Sunday, Oct. 29 at campus sites.