When former University of Kentucky women’s soccer assistant coach Aaron Rodgers accepted the Ohio women’s soccer head coaching position in December, he did not envision his first season ending the way it did.
Stephanie Clarke scored two first-half goals, Angela Vultaggio added one in the second half and the Eastern Michigan Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament with a convincing 3-0 victory over the Ohio Bobcats in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Sunday afternoon.
Clarke opened the scoring on five minutes, and with 12 minutes to go before halftime, the senior forward added her second of the contest. Vultaggio made sure the Bobcats’ fate was secured with a goal on 66 minutes.
Despite a flurry of chances toward the end of the match, Ohio (7-8-5, 3-6-3 MAC) could not find the back of the net. With the loss, the ‘Cats ended their season on a three-game losing skid.
Eastern Michigan (12-6-2, 9-2-1 MAC) had 16 shots in the match compared to Ohio’s 15. Half of the Eagles’ shot attempts were on goal. Both teams executed five corner kicks.
Senior goalkeeper Mattie Liston made five saves in the contest for the Green and White. On the other side, Eastern Michigan’s Megan McCabe made six saves in the match.
Just as they did in the first matchup, the Eagles put the pressure on the Bobcats immediately. Junior midfielder Marisa Kozikowski crossed the ball into the box, and Clarke’s shot hit the post and went past Liston to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead after five minutes of play.
Four minutes later, Ohio had its first chance of the match. Liz Finley tried her luck at goal, and McCabe made the stop.
On 15 minutes, Holly Harris saw her attempt at goal go over the crossbar.
With 12 minutes to go until halftime, the Eagles doubled their advantage. Vultaggio found Clarke, and the former St. Thomas Aquinas product beat Liston for the second time on the day.
Freshman Lexi Milesky had a chance to get a goal back with a minute to play in the first half, and the forward’s shot was stopped by McCabe.
After 45 minutes of play, the Eagles took 13 shots, while Ohio only had three. The Eagles also held a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Eight minutes into the second half, Carly Manso was looking to cut the deficit in half, but her effort was saved by McCabe.
On 66 minutes, the Eagles officially put the result beyond doubt. After seeing Liston save her earlier attempts at goal, Vultaggio received a pass from Kozikowski, and the junior chipped the ball over Liston to make the score 3-0.
With 21 minutes left in the contest, Milesky and Sasha Haverchak saw their efforts go wide of goal, and on 77 minutes, Manso’s shot at goal was saved by McCabe.
Eastern Michigan, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, will play the winner of the Western Michigan vs. Kent State game.