Sitting in seventh place in the Mid-American Conference standings, the Ohio women’s soccer team (6-5-5, 2-3-3 MAC) has an excellent opportunity to secure a place in the MAC Tournament come November.
The Bobcats will hit the road for the final time in the regular season, the first of two road games being a contest Friday against the Toledo Rockets (5-10-1, 2-5-1 MAC) at 4 p.m.
The ‘Cats are coming off a weekend with mixed results. The Green and White suffered a 3-0 defeat against Eastern Michigan on Friday, and the Bobcats bounced back to earn a crucial 0-0 draw against Western Michigan on Sunday’s Senior Day game
“The game Friday wasn’t us,” freshman forward Alexis Milesky said. “I didn’t recognize that team, but we regrouped and we were able to find out what we wanted to do with the remainder of the season.”
Before their match against the Broncos on Sunday, the Bobcats received a boost when they found out redshirt freshman forward Sasha Haverchak would play. The Akron, Ohio, native played 54 minutes in the draw at Chessa Field. Haverchak was happy to be able to get back on the field and help her team achieve success.
“I strained my hamstring, and I am not 100 percent yet,” Haverchak said. “But it is a critical time of year, so I need to be out there. Taking four weeks off helped me, and I am taking it day by day. ”
Haverchak also said that it felt amazing to be on the field after missing time. She expects to play a role in both games this weekend.
Both Toledo and Sunday’s opponent, Northern Illinois, are right below Ohio in the MAC standings. For Ohio head coach Aaron Rodgers, these two games will determine how their season ends.
“These are classic six-point encounters,” Rodgers said. “If either one of these teams gets three points against us, they could leapfrog us in the table. These are massive games, and if we win them both, we will be in a tremendous position in the MAC.”
Throughout practice this week, the Bobcats have been working on basic training drills. On Thursday, the team worked on set pieces, mainly free kicks and corner kicks.
“We have been focused and taking his (Rodgers’) instruction seriously,” Haverchak said. “We have been working hard this week in practice.”
Milesky has continued to shine on numerous occasions this season. The Plain City, Ohio, native is tied for third on the team with eight points and is tied for the team lead with three goals. Milesky has also recorded two assists so far this season.
Despite this being her first season in Athens, Milesky is ready to continue to make a difference for the Bobcats.
“I don’t feel tired at all,” Milesky said. “I want to play and do my best to help the team win.”
Rodgers said he expects the same players to be able to play both matches this weekend. He also said that he expects Haverchak to play a role in proceedings this weekend, as well.
Even though they are two points behind Ohio in the standings, Rodgers had high praise for Toledo, including senior forward Rachel MacLeod, who leads the team with 11 goals this season.
“Their senior forward (MacLeod) is a dangerous player,” Rodgers said. “Toledo is an organized team, and they are fighting just like us.”
Besides MacLeod, Ohio must look out for Kiersten Johnson and Brooke Maletic. Freshman forward Johnson has three goals and one assist this season, and freshman forward Maletic has recorded two goals and two assists this season.
For Milesky and Haverchak, the Bobcats will need to battle and play 90 minutes if they want to come out on top this weekend.
Rodgers is expecting the same effort he got from his team against Western Michigan.
“We need to show intensity and play like our backs are against the wall,” Rodgers said. “If we have a winning record in our last three games, we will be in the MAC Tournament. We will need 90 minutes of effort and we need to create and finish our chances.”