Rodgers era set to begin at Ohio

They may have undergone a change of leadership, but the Ohio women’s soccer team is hopeful that improvement and wins will make their presence felt in 2013.

Newly-hired head coach Aaron Rodgers and his squad will be looking to shore up a few areas before the team’s 2013 campaign gets under way against Indiana at Chessa Field on Friday.

“I’m really excited to get the season started,” Rodgers said. “I arrived at Ohio in December and it’s been fun getting to know the team. The team is adapting to my new philosophies and styles of play, and we’ve been able to work on new things in preseason. We’ve many new players who have come in, which makes this a fun and exciting time for me. We’re ready to play a real game.”

Senior central midfielder Maggie Murnane echoed the previous statements made by her coach.

“I’m very, very excited to start the season,” Murnane said. “I can’t wait for our home opener (against Indiana). It is exciting to have a new structure and employ a new coaching strategy. I’m pumped to show off our hard work.”

After the Bobcats’ 2012 season came to a close, Stacy Strauss stepped down as coach of the team after 13 seasons. It did not take long for Rodgers to commit his immediate future to the Bobcats.

“The opportunity to be a coach really attracted me to Ohio,” Rodgers said. “This is a great academic and athletic institution. I moved to Ohio in 1999, and my wife is from the Cleveland area. It’s an area I have always been familiar with. This is a great opportunity for me.”

Murnane admitted the team was upset when Strauss made the decision to step down, but the team, especially Murnane, really likes what Rodgers brings to the table.

“She (Strauss) was a great person,” Murnane said. “She was one of the main reasons I transferred to Ohio. When Aaron first got hired, he gave me a call and everything clicked. I understood what he was telling me. It’s great to have him so far. I’ve really learned a lot in a short amount of time.”

Murnane took a lot of time this summer to improve her game. The former Dayton Flyer would take the time to run, and she would lift three times a week. She also played soccer throughout the summer. Murnane said she was excited about how the team looks so far, and she is hopeful that this season will be one she never forgets.

The team has not played a competitive game yet, but Rodgers has a good idea of what his team will be working on during the season.

“One of the main things we will be working on is possession of the ball,” Rodgers said. “I want to have a dynamic style where we put pressure on our opponents when the opportunity is right. If we can do that, we will be able to force the other team into mistakes, which will allow us to go on the counterattack.”

Rodgers will use four defenders, one holding midfielder and three other midfielders to support the two strikers, otherwise known as a 4-1-3-2 formation. Offensively, Rodgers wants his side to keep possession and create many scoring chances. Defensively, Rodgers is hopeful that if the team loses possession, they will win the ball back quickly. Rodgers wants his team to make the game predictable. If they can do that, they can step in and win the ball back, which will allow the team to eventually create a scoring chance.

Rodgers believes he has a lot of depth in various areas of the pitch. He expects all of his players will contribute, and when it comes to the team’s forward line, Rodgers does not want only one player to supply all the goals. If many players can score goals, it will make Ohio harder to defend, according to Rodgers.

In terms of team goals, Murnane wants to see the team’s goal differential improve.

“In year’s past, we have given up more goals than we have scored,” Murnane said. “We want to score more goals and give up less goals. We also want to gel as a team. We also want to get into the MAC Tournament and do well in it. We want to be a team that other teams have to prepare for.”

Rodgers knows that the season is long, but he wants his team to continue to get better.

“It’s a process to win a championship,” Rodgers said. “I want to see improvement every day and in every game. If we can do that, results will follow. It would be great if we could finish better than last season and score more goals.”

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