Their record may be hard to look at, but the Central Michigan women’s soccer team is playing its best soccer of the season.
After falling behind early, goals from Kaelyn Korte and Emily Cooksey lifted the Chippewas to a 2-1 victory over the Ohio Bobcats at Chessa Field on Sunday afternoon.
“Give credit to Central Michigan, they played an extremely hard non-conference schedule,” Ohio head coach Aaron Rodgers said. “Their record is deceiving. They are a good team. We struggled to keep up with the pace of the game.”
The Chippewas (2-7-1, 2-0-0 MAC) have now won two straight matches and they also maintain their perfect start to conference play. The Bobcats six-match unbeaten run is now history. This is Ohio’s first loss since a 3-1 defeat at the hands of DePaul on Aug. 30.
Central Michigan out shot Ohio (5-3-2, 1-1-0 MAC) by six, 13-7, and the away side also executed nine corners compared to Ohio’s four, which all came in the first half.
Chippewas goalkeeper Grace Labrecque only had to make one save on the afternoon. On the other side, Ohio ‘keeper Mattie Liston was forced to make seven saves.
The away side got off to a great start. On two minutes, Nicole Samuel made a smart lead pass to Laura Gosse. The junior took a chance at goal, but her shot did not trouble Liston.
Samuel was at it again six minutes later. The senior forward put a cross into the box and Liston was able to make a comfortable save.
Central Michigan had more possession of the ball in the first 10 minutes of play. On 14 minutes, however, the Bobcats drew a penalty kick. Tonya Frasik stepped up to the spot, but her shot was kept out of the net by Labrecque.
“It’s difficult to adjust the momentum of the match after missing a penalty kick,” Rodgers said. “But it’s part of the game. We have to start playing 90-minute matches.”
Six minutes after the penalty miss, Ohio got on the board courtesy of Liz Finley. Freshman starlet Alexis Milesky put a cross into the box from the right side of the field, and Finley met the ball at the back post to give the ‘Cats the momentum.
The Chippewas came up with a quick response. The Chippewas put the ball into the danger area, and Gosse found Korte, whose right-footed shot went past a diving Liston into the back of the net to level proceedings.
Ten minutes before halftime, Central Michigan took the lead for the first time in the match. Angie Mann passed the ball to Cooksey, and the junior midfielder scored a wonder goal from 25 yards that found the top right corner of the net.
Four minutes from intermission, the Chippewas almost added a third goal. Gabby Hausfeld had trouble with the ball at the back, and Mann was one-on-one with Liston, but Liston got a touch on the ball, which went right of Liston’s goal.
“We were struggling with our organization and the pace of the game,” Rodgers said. “We have to do a better job of paying attention to detail.”
After one period of play, both teams had four corners and Central Michigan held a 9-6 advantage in shots. Liston made five saves in the first 45 minutes.
The second half was short on opportunities, but Ohio did have a golden opportunity 10 minutes into the second stanza. Ohio earned a free kick on the right side of the field, which was taken by Frasik, and the defender’s cross was saved by Labrecque.
The Chippewas had a couple of corner kick opportunities that did not come to fruition, but on 71 minutes, they had a great chance to put the result beyond doubt. Emma Dwenger had a chance to score a goal on a header, but Liston was able to come to the rescue for the ‘Cats.
With two minutes remaining, the Chippewas had another chance to ice the game. Kaitlin Moore unleashed a shot on goal that did not trouble Liston at all as the ball went over the crossbar.
The Bobcats were unable to create many chances throughout the match. But Rodgers did try out new ideas on the pitch.
“We usually create many opportunities in our matches, but we wanted to put in early services to catch them off guard a bit,” Rodgers said. “We need to be a little more creative on the ball when we attack the other team.”
The Ohio Bobcats will look to start a new unbeaten streak as they will play four straight matches on the road. Their first road test in conference play will be against bitter rival Miami on Friday at 4 p.m.