After failing to defeat Northern Illinois this past Sunday, the Ohio Bobcats will host Ball State on Friday at 4 p.m. before they play Miami on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Even though Ohio was unable to convert its chances against NIU, Ohio coach Aaron Rodgers earned his most prestigious victory as Ohio coach on Friday with a 1-0 away win against defending MAC champion Western Michigan.
“We had two polar opposite games last weekend,” Rodgers said. “On Friday, we were super organized, defended well and were difficult to break down.”
In the two weekends the Bobcats have played MAC opposition, Ohio has won both of its Friday games but lost both of its Sunday games. Senior Annie Beard is hopeful the team can start a winning streak in MAC play.
“It shows us the importance of finishing weekends strong,” Beard said. ” A six-point weekend would definitely help us.”
Beard, a native of Mason, Ohio, is having a stellar season so far for Ohio (5-7, 2-2 MAC). She has scored two goals this season, which is two more than she scored in her previous three seasons, and she has had to deal with the opposition’s biggest attacking threat game after game.
She might not get the plaudits after the games because she plays as a defensive midfielder, but she has been able to take on more responsibility than in her first three seasons.
“It’s something that I like to have,” she said. “This is my last season, and I have a lot to accomplish, so it’s important to have that added responsibility.”
During this week’s practice, Rodgers is making sure the team works on its offensive organization and shape, maintaining possession of the ball, and getting forward a lot more quickly to score goals.
Ball State (6-3-2, 2-2 MAC) has won three of its last five games. But it is coming off a 3-0 home loss against Toledo on Sunday. Sophomore midfielder Gabby Veldman has three goals and three assists this season, and junior midfielder Madison Oyer has three goals and two assists to her name.
Last season, Ohio lost at Ball State, 2-1. Beard and the team are looking for revenge this time around.
“We want to beat them after what happened last year,” Beard said. “Both of their goals were fluke goals, so we need to make them work for it on Friday.”
Miami (9-2, 3-1 MAC) has won its last three games by a score of 2-0. Senior forward Kelsey Dinges has scored seven goals and assisted on three others this season, and freshman forward Kat Zalar has scored three goals.
Last season, Lexi Milesky’s goal helped Ohio earn a 1-1 draw at Miami. Miami has traditionally been Ohio’s biggest rival, but Rodgers says that it’s just another game on the schedule.
“Rivalries are always fun and it’s important to represent your university in those games, but we have to get three points in that game,” he said.
Ohio is currently tied with four other teams for fifth place in the MAC standings with six points. Miami is in third place with nine points.
For Ohio to record maximum points this weekend, it will need to continue to finish chances and stay organized.
“I think that once we start scoring goals more regularly, we’ll begin to explode and make our mark,” Rodgers said.