After a credible 1-1 draw away to fierce rival Miami and a 2-1 defeat in Muncie to Mid-American Conference West foe Ball State, the Ohio women’s soccer team will be asked to travel on the road for the second straight weekend.
Aaron Rodgers and his squad know they have a great chance to create some separation in the standings against their next opponent.
The Ohio Bobcats (5-4-3, 1-2-1 MAC) will be hoping to win their first conference away match Friday when they travel to northeast Ohio to take on the Akron Zips (4-6-2, 1-3-0 MAC) at 7:30 p.m.
Despite not earning a win last weekend, Rodgers liked what he saw from his team.
“For us to go and prove what type of team we can be was pleasing to see,” Rodgers said. “When we played Miami, it was an exciting game where both teams had chances to score. Against Ball State, we came out extremely flat, and even though we improved in the second half, they made it difficult for us to tie the game.”
So far this season, the ‘Cats have a 3-1-2 record away from Chessa Field. With a win, Ohio will have recorded four away wins for the first time since the 2009 campaign.
“We want to beat teams where they feel confident,” Tonya Frasik said of the team’s impressive away mark. “This weekend, we need to get these two wins.”
In conference play, the Zips have registered one more loss than the Bobcats. Rodgers sees this game as a chance for Ohio to try to get into an ideal conference position before the MAC Tournament rolls around in early November.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get two away wins,” Rodgers said. “Both teams (Akron and Buffalo) will feel the same way, so we must do the things we have been stressing this season to be successful this weekend.”
This week in practice, the team has worked on keeping its shape, moving the ball from the backline to the target players and Rodgers has been giving some players the chance to adopt to new positions.
Just like Central Michigan and Miami before them, Akron’s record does not look good on paper, but Rodgers knows his team will have to play a great game to beat the Zips.
“They attack quickly and they stay organized,” Rodgers said. “They put a lot of numbers behind the ball, so we will have to have a cutting edge to our finishing.”
Even though they are playing their third and fourth straight away games this weekend, Frasik believes the team will not suffer from fatigue because the squad has plenty of time to recover throughout the week. The junior also said the team is full of fit players.
The Lebanon, Ohio, native also knows that getting off to strong starts this weekend is crucial for the team’s success.
“(Getting off to a quick start) means everything to us,” Frasik said. “We have not been scored on in the second half of MAC play so far. We could have beat Ball State if we started out the game better than we did.”
The Zips’ attack is led by Kelly Deniro. The senior leads the MAC in shots with 43. Sarah Sivic has tallied four goals this season and she leads the team in points with 12. In her 10 games in net this season, goalkeeper Klaire Adee has a total of 30 saves.
The Bobcats and Zips will square off for the 13th time. Ohio holds an 8-4 advantage in the series and, in last season’s matchup, then-freshman Holly Harris bagged a brace to give the Bobcats a thrilling 3-2 victory at Chessa last season.
For the Bobcats to be successful, they will have to put a full 90-minute match together, something they have yet to achieve this season.
“We must stay focused throughout the match,” Rodgers said. “We have to have the belief that we can win because we are capable of winning matches.”