Soccer: Three thoughts from Ohio’s spring season opener

A trio of thoughts following the Ohio Bobcats’ back-to-back 6-1 victories against West Virginia Wesleyan and Findlay at the Walter Fieldhouse on Saturday.

The players are getting more comfortable with Aaron Rodgers’ philosophy

From the moment Ohio and West Virginia Wesleyan kicked off, the Bobcats looked comfortable on the ball and usually made the right pass. Rodgers, the team’s coach, wants his team to have as much possession of the ball as it can get, while also creating scoring chances. Ohio passed the ball effectively from side to side, and when the team tried to pass the ball through the middle of the field, it worked well.

Freshman phenom Lexi Milesky’s neat little touch found striker Holly Harris, whose cool finish gave Ohio a 1-0 lead.

“Her work ethic is what separates her from others, but, at times, she just wants to go, go, go,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes she gets in the way of others. I was telling her to let the game come to her, and throughout the games, she did a much better job at that.”

Ohio was up 4-0 in the second half when a beautiful through ball was played to right back Tonya Frasik. Frasik’s powerful shot found the back of the net to make the score 5-0.

Ohio’s last goal of the first game involved great link up play. Liz Finley dribbled the ball down the left flank, found Harris, then Harris dribbled toward the goal, crossed the ball into the box, and Milesky’s shot found the back of the net to extend Ohio’s lead to 6-0.

“She (Harris) has been fantastic this spring,” Rodgers said. “She has the potential to be a First Team All-MAC forward. Both her and Carly (Manso) play off each other really well.”

Ohio’s offense could be its biggest strength

Among Harris, Milesky, Alli Cislo and Manso, Ohio’s four main attacking options scored 10 of the 12 goals. The quartet seemed to understand where each other was going to be, and, in Manso’s case, the finishing was excellent.

With Ohio leading West Virginia Wesleyan, 2-0, Manso had her back to goal, and she unleashed a fierce, curving shot that went into the top left corner of the net to give Ohio a 3-0 lead before halftime.

“Our development as a team is extremely important,” Rodgers said. “We want to keep developing our style that we want to install. Scoring goals is an important part of our style.”

Cislo made her mark in the game against Findlay. Ohio held a 3-1 lead, and, even though she appeared to have slipped, Cislo’s shot from outside the box found its way into the bottom corner of the net to give Ohio a 4-1 lead.

Harris then held the ball up for Cislo, and Harris’ astute pass released Cislo into the open field. Cislo was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but she was able to keep her cool and slot the ball into the bottom right corner for a 5-1 lead.

Harris’ sixth goal of the day gave Ohio a 6-1 lead against Findlay.

If these players can continue to grow and improve, Ohio’s total goals scored for next season will be higher than last season’s.

Campbell, Hausfeld, Beard and Sandercock will be counted on to keep the team’s shape and lead attacks

Center backs Grace Campbell and Gabby Hausfeld, and midfielders Annie Beard and Leah Sandercock will most likely not receive all of the plaudits in every game that they play, but they probably have the most important job on the field: these four players must limit how often the opposition attacks, and it needs to start up Ohio’s attack toward goal.

In both games, when Ohio needed to start its attack, the ball went to either Campbell or Hausfeld, and the pair usually found Beard, Sandercock, or someone out wide.

These four players showed tremendous composure and made the right pass when the pass was needed to build the attack.

“Our center backs are vital to building and starting our attacks,” Rodgers said.

Both games featured nine players on each side. Ohio used a 2-4-2 formation, with Campbell and Hausfeld as the center backs and Frasik and Finley as the wing players. Either Beard or Sandercock was in the game to provide cover in the middle of the field. Rodgers plans to use a 2-6-2 formation next season, which he thinks will give his players the best chance to succeed.

“We are trying to find players to fit certain roles,” Rodgers said. “The players are starting to click a lot more now.”

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