Bea Dechant’s goal in the 77th minute gave the Miami RedHawks a 3-2 overtime win over the Ohio Bobcats in a pulsating match at the MAC Tournament in Oxford.
Emily Gruesser, the hero for the RedHawks last Saturday in their 3-1 demolition of the Bobcats in Oxford, gave her side the lead. Adele Sammons and Jessica Jue answered back to put Ohio within minutes of reaching the final.
Ali Froede’s goal midway through the second half swung the momentum back to Miami and seven minutes into the first overtime session, Dechant scored the winner to send the RedHawks into the MAC Tournament Final, where they will face the Kent State Golden Flashes in a rematch of the 2010 MAC Tournament Final.
Despite scoring three goals, Miami held a slim advantage in shots, 11-10, and penalty corners, 7-5.Ohio had eight shots on target, compared to Miami’s four.
Ohio (8-9) goalkeeper Brittany Walker only made one save in the match, which came in the overtime period. Her opposite number Sarah Mueller made six saves in the contest.
Early on in the match, both sides were playing it safe and making a flurry of substitutions. Cathryn Altdoerffer had the first chance for the ‘Cats in the 15th minute, but Mueller kept the ball out of the net.
Mueller made two more saves in the 22nd and 26th minutes as Taylor Brown and Caelyn Hartley both came up empty handed.
In the 30th minute, Gruesser broke the deadlock. Olivia Miller found Gruesser from a penalty corner situation and her shot went past Walker to put Miami in front with five minutes left in the first half.
Right before half-time in the 35th minute, Ohio responded. Jue executed the penalty corner and found Sammons, who unleashed a shot past Mueller to tie the game at one going into the break.
In the 37th minute, Jue gave Ohio the lead. Mueller stopped an initial Ohio shot, but Jue popped up and slotted the ball past Mueller to give the ‘Cats a real chance at making back-to-back final appearances.
Even though they were down a goal to the reigning MAC champions, Miami (11-9) answered back in the 53rd minute. Miller found Froede via a penalty corner, and her unstoppable drive found the back of the net to tie the game at two and give her team all of the momentum.
With ten minutes left, Katie Fenzel had a chance to regain the lead for the Bobcats, but Mueller stood tall to keep the match tied.
The match went into overtime with both sides tied at two, and Dechant’s winner in the 77th minute prevented the rival Bobcats from defending their MAC championship crown.
Player of the Game: Jessica Jue. Even though her team is eliminated from the MAC Tournament, Jue played very well in the match. Her assist to Sammons gave the ‘Cats momentum heading into the break and her goal was well-taken. With Brown, Altdoerffer and Mastro set to graduate, Jue will be one of the main leaders for the Bobcats next season.
Ohio Verdict: A hard-fought loss for the Bobcats in Oxford. For the second time in a week, they just could not get past their rivals. After a memorable season where they finished 19-5 and made the NCAA Tournament, the Bobcats finished this season with a losing record and no MAC title. A long off-season awaits for Neil Macmillan’s bunch.
Miami Verdict: A great win for the RedHawks. They will be considered the favorites to add a MAC Tournament Title to their MAC regular season title they claimed last week. Gruesser and Froede are two great players, and the ‘Cats just had no answer for them. They will need to play at their absolute best if they plan to get by Kent State in the final.