The Ohio women’s soccer team was full of optimism heading into its first game under the leadership of Aaron Rodgers. But with one kick of the ball, Indiana midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy ruined the positive vibe at Chessa Field.
The senior’s goal on 69 minutes handed the Hoosiers a precious 1-0 away win against the Bobcats on Friday evening.
Ohio (0-1) had many chances to take the lead in front of its biggest supporters, but senior defender Lara Ross found Nouanesengsy, and the Ohio native hit a volley past starting goalkeeper Nicole Amari to ensure the Hoosiers’ season started out on the right foot.
“I thought our team chemistry was good,” Rodgers said. “In the first half, we were a bit tentative. After halftime, the team adjusted and executed well. We were disappointed when we gave up the goal, but we have a good base. This is an ongoing process. We are changing the style of play, but I feel good with where we are right now.”
Amari, who got the starting spot ahead of senior Mattie Liston, made five saves on the day for the ‘Cats. Senior stopper Shannon Flower made three saves for the Hoosiers.
Indiana out shot Ohio, 10-8, but both the Hoosiers and the Bobcats executed four corner kicks.
Indiana (1-0) will take its unblemished record back home where it will face Georgia Southern on Sunday. Ohio will not have much time to regroup as it will play the second in a three-game homestand on Sunday afternoon.
The Bobcats got the action started in the ninth minute. Colorado transfer Carly Manso took a shot at goal, but Flower stood tall to make the save for the Hoosiers.
Two minutes later, Indiana put Amari to the test. Senior forward Rebecca Candler tried her luck at goal, but Amari made the save to keep the score tied at zero.
Indiana had another opportunity in the 20th minute. Monica Melink had a shot at goal, but Amari kept the ball out of the back of the net.
After a flurry of substitutions from both sides, Ohio saw a chance go wide. Liz Finley got her head on the ball, but the attempt did not trouble Flower.
Both teams had one corner in the first half, and Indiana held a slim 3-2 advantage in shots.
Ohio started well in the second half. In the 47th minute, Alexis Milesky’s shot went wide of the goal, and Finley saw another header go wide of the post on 50 minutes.
Candler tried to break the deadlock in the 54th minute, but her shot did not give Amari any trouble. Five minutes later, Ohio was on the attack again, but Milesky’s header went wide of Flower’s goal.
After both sides made substitutions during the middle part of the second half, the Hoosiers scored the match’s first goal. Ross’ cross was from 22 yards out, and Nouanesengsy hit a volley at the six-yard box that went past the outstretched Amari to give Indiana control of the match.
Two minutes after the goal, Ohio almost equalized. A header from Allison Cislo produced a diving save from Flower.
On 74 minutes, Amari made two crucial saves to keep Ohio’s hopes of winning the match alive. First, Amari denied Melink’s shot, then the Ohio keeper kept Jessie Bujouves’ shot out of the goal.
Ohio had two more chances, but they could not convert on either one. In the 88th minute, Erin Wrubel made a great run down the left side, but her shot went wide of the near post.
On 89 minutes, Manso had another crack at goal, but as she did the whole match, Flower came up with another save when her team needed it.
Manso was impressed with the amount of support the team got today.
“The crowd was awesome,” Manso said. “It meant a lot to us to see such large support in this town. We did very well, but we did not get the result we wanted. We still have a little way to go.”
The Bobcats will look to give Rodgers his first win as Ohio coach when they host Wright State on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.