Courtesy of Ohio Media Relations
KENT, Ohio - The third time was the charm for the Ohio field hockey team, as they avenged two regular season losses to Miami by defeating the second-seeded RedHawks, 2-0, in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday afternoon. With the win, the third-seeded Bobcats (11-11, 6-4 MAC) advance to tomorrow’s championship game, where they will battle host and No. 1 seed Kent State for their third-straight MAC Tournament title. The Golden Flashes beat Central Michigan, 4-1, in the first semifinal Friday.
Ohio, now riding a season-long four-game winning streak, knocked Miami (14-7, 7-3 MAC) out of the MAC Tournament for the second-consecutive season, after defeating the RedHawks on their own turf in last year’s title game, 3-2, in overtime. With today’s win, the Bobcats have won six-straight MAC Tournament matches.
Ohio has used both offense and defense to propel itself into the title game, scoring nine goals in two tournament matches, including seven in yesterday’s shutout of Missouri State, while not allowing a goal thus far in the tournament.
Sophomore Katherine Ballard (Charlottesville, Va.) put Ohio on the board midway through the first half, as she scored her first-career goal by knocking home a long pass from senior and 2008 Second-Team All-MAC recipient Estienne Coetzee (Bloemfontein, S.A.), who tallied her fourth assist of the season on the play.
“Katherine’s goal was a great opportunistic goal,” Ohio head coach Neil Macmillan said. “Estienne played a delightful ball in from the left side and Miami’s defense left Katherine wide open in front of the goal and she tipped it through the goalie’s legs. The timing was excellent and it was a very pretty goal.”
Neither team could muster much offense in the first frame, as the ’Cats took their one-goal lead into the break, while holding a slight, 4-3 edge in shots. Ohio also earned five penalty corners, while limiting Miami to just one in the opening half, something that had bitten the Bobcats in the first two match-ups with the RedHawks.
Junior Marcy Dull (Ephrata, Pa.) then notched her fourth goal of the tournament, and fifth goal in the last three games, 13:06 into the second stanza, as 2008 First-Team All-MAC honoree Nikki Gnozzio (Flanders, N.J.) tallied her team-leading eighth assist of the year, a single-season best for the senior.
The RedHawks would attempt a rally, firing six second-half shots and earning three penalty corners, but the Bobcats would not be denied, as Ballard’s first-ever goal turned out to be the game-winner and pushed Ohio through to the finals.
Miami outshot Ohio, 9-7, in the loss, while Ohio owned a 6-4 edge in penalty corners for the match. Mary Hull led the RedHawks with three shots, while sophomore Louzeth Schutte (Senekal, S.A.) paced the ’Cats with three as well.
“We talked about (our defense) at halftime of yesterday’s game (against Missouri State),” Macmillan said. “We gave up three shots in the first half to them and ever since that conversation, we’ve been tighter at the back. We did a good job limiting their opportunities today and several of their shots were in a row, so I’m not as concerned with the number of shots they got. I’m really happy we limited their corners to just four.”
First-Team All-MAC goalie Jessie Martin (Louisville, Ky.) stopped all three of Miami’s shots on goal, earning her third shutout of the season and 11th of her career, as well as her 11th win of the year. The senior, Martin, and freshman Jen McGill (Louisville, Ky.) combined for yesterday’s shutout win over Missouri State.
Tomorrow’s championship match against Kent State is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Flashes’ Murphy-Mellis Field. Kent State and Ohio split the regular season series, with the Bobcats winning, 1-0, at Kent State on Sept. 28. Live stats will be available by clicking here.
“We’re very excited. We knew that it was the MAC Tournament that matters, not to say the regular season doesn’t, but the tourney is how you win your way into the (NCAA) play-in game,” Macmillan said. “We did a good job with executing today and we’re looking forward to tomorrow. We’ll get over our bumps and bruises (tonight) and be ready to go first thing tomorrow morning.”