Story Courtesy of Ohio Media Relations
ATHENS, Ohio - The No. 19 Richmond Spiders (14-8) edged the Ohio Bobcats (12-9) by a final score of 2-1 in a 2009 NCAA Play-In Game at Pruitt Field Tuesday. Katelyn Shelley (Ephrata, Pa.) scored for the Bobcats in the first minute of the match, but second half goals from Sara Blythe-Wood and Dani Pycroft were too much to overcome in the end.
The match got off to an electrifying start, with the Bobcats applying the pressure early. Paige Herr (Lancaster, Pa.) threaded a beautiful pass through to Shelley who was able to knock it past the goalkeeper for the first score of the game, only 58 seconds into the match. 1-0 Bobcats and the atmosphere in the near-full Pruitt Field was electric.
"We started the game really well," said head coach Neil Macmillan. "I don't think we started a game that well all year. To get a goal in under a minute is something we've been trying to do all season."
Ohio dominated much of the possession in the first half, creating some nice opportunities with clever one-two passes up and down the pitch, really controlling much of the tempo in between the two D's. Richmond fired five shots in the first period, but Courtney Seiders (Mt. Joy, Pa.) and the Bobcat defense were equal to them all. A late shot by Megan Thompson threatened to even the scores before halftime, but Seiders was ready and waiting for it.
The second half began completely opposite of the first, with the visitors pressing the Ohio defense right off the bat. Sarah Blythe-Wood of Richmond received a nice pass from Katelin Peterson and was able to slide it in past Seiders, tying the score at 1-1 just 46 seconds into the second half.
The teams then traded penalty corners and scoring chances for the next few moments with both sides ratcheting up the intensity once the scores were level. The next breakthrough came in the 47th minute when Dani Pycroft scored an unassisted goal for the Spiders. Pycroft did some nice dribbling inside the Ohio defensive zone and was just able to slip it past the outstretched Seiders.
Richmond almost made it 3-1 on another Blythe-Wood attempt that got past Seiders, but fortunately Brooked Edwards (Milford, Pa.) had positioned herself perfectly and was able to clear the ball before it crossed the line. This clutch defensive play invigorated the Bobcats, who kept virtually the rest of the match inside the Spiders' defensive zone.
"The team really fought hard at the end and did a great job," said Macmillan. "To win some corners at the end of the play and have the opportunity to tie it up was a great testament to the will of this team."
The Bobcats were not to go down without a fight, as they caught fire over the final moments of the match and really pressured the visitors. Ohio put together two late penalty corners and four shots during its valiant attempt to draw level, but just couldn't quite send the ball across the line. The best chance was when Patty Donahue (Powell, Oh.) found the ball on her stick with an open net, but as she fired the ball towards goal Richmond's Catherine Ostoich made an unbelievable lunging defensive save to preserve the lead.
The `Cats had a final chance as time expired with a penalty corner. Marcy Dull (Ephrata, Pa.) received the pass from Brittany Zorn (Millersville, Md.) and Shelley and struck it hard. The crowd held its collective breath as the ball sailed just high of goal and the final whistle sounded.
"This season was a great achievement for this team," said Macmillan. "The will of this team...the fight, the dedication they put into getting better has been great, and we fell just a hair short in the end."
The 2009 season was a historic one for the Bobcats, winning their third conference title in four years. The 12 wins during the season ties for sixth place all-time in the Bobcat record books, and Katelyn Shelley's 14 assists put her in a four-way tie for most assists in one season in program history.