Ohio looking to rebound against bitter rival Miami

After scoring the first goal on 20 minutes in Sunday’s match against Central Michigan, the Ohio women’s soccer team was on course to extend its six-game unbeaten run. In a matter of 15 minutes, however, the team’s unbeaten run was ended.

Losing 2-1 in front of their home fans left a bad taste in the mouths of the Bobcats. Even though they succumbed to defeat for the first time since Aug. 30, the Bobcats will be looking to start a new streak against their arch rivals.

In the first of four straight on the road, the Ohio women’s soccer team (5-3-2, 1-1-0 MAC) will travel to Oxford to take on the Miami RedHawks (4-6-0, 1-1-0 MAC) on Friday with kickoff set for 4 p.m.

“The girls were introduced to how hard conference play is going to be,” Ohio head coach Aaron Rodgers said. “The physicality and pace of the game is ramped up compared to our nonconference games.”

The Bobcats enter the contest with an unblemished 3-0-1 record away from Chessa Field. Despite the success on the road, junior center-back Gabby Hausfeld believes this stretch of games will be the toughest the ‘Cats face all season.

“Traveling on the road is never easy,” Hausfeld said. “We have to take a bus to get to the games, and we are trying to do homework on the way to games and back. Everything piles up at once, but this is nothing we can’t handle.”

The Miami match is arguably the most important game the Bobcats play all season, but Hausfeld is viewing it as just another game.

“They’re our rivals, and we should be a little more pumped to play them, but this is just another game for us,” Hausfeld said. “We will play this game the same as the other games.”

One of the main reasons behind Ohio’s loss on Sunday was the ineffectiveness of star midfielder Maggie Murnane. The senior only played 35 minutes on Sunday because of a knee injury she suffered against Cleveland State on Sept. 20.

Murnane said her knee is “all right” and “getting better each day.” She also said her status for this weekend is “to be determined.”

For Murnane, the rivalry match with Miami has a lot of implications.

“I hate every freaking team I play, but everyone gets agitated when we play Miami,” Murnane said. “It’s a big rivalry game, and we want to make sure that they know we are the better team in Ohio and in the MAC.”

Just like Central Michigan, Miami comes into the contest with a sub-.500 record. Rodgers still believes Miami is a team to be reckoned with.

“They are a dynamic team who is good in attack,” Rodgers said. “We need to be compact at the back, and I think we can have success in our attack and score goals on them.”

The Bobcats will be using this week to practice the same aspects of the game they have been working on since the beginning of the season, according to Hausfeld.

“We have been working on defending and paying attention to the little details,” Hausfeld said. “We have also been working on playing quickly and our whole offensive attack.”

Miami enters the encounter with a 1-3-0 home record. Their lone home win was a 5-0 thrashing of Belmont on Aug. 30. Last time out, the RedHawks secured a 1-0 away win against Buffalo.

Miami’s attack is led by Katy Dolesh. The senior has a team-high six goals and also has one assist. Kayla Zakrzewski and Kelsey Dinges each have three goals on the season. Zakrzewski leads the team with six assists. Goalkeeper Allison Norenberg has 25 saves on the year and a 1.85 goals against average.

If the Bobcats want to win their second conference game, they must play well at both ends of the field.

“We must defend well and pay attention to the details,” Rodgers said. “We have to be dynamic in attack, as well.”

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