ATHENS, Ohio - On a beautiful Sunday afternoon on the campus of Ohio University, the Ohio field hockey team was looking to complete a weekend sweep with a victory over the visiting Michigan State Spartans. Unfortunately, this was not the case as the Big Ten team beat Ohio by a score of 5-2.
The Bobcats came into the game with a 1-2 record and were fresh off of a thrilling 1-0 victory against the Indiana Hoosiers on Friday night. Great team defensive play as well as an outstanding performance by goalkeeper Courtney Seiders (Mt. Joy, Pa.) were what propelled the Green and White to their first victory against Big Ten opposition this year.
The Spartans got off to a quick start, firing five shots before connecting on their first goal of the afternoon. In the sixth minute from a penalty corner, Angel Pagura fired two quick shots. The first one struck the post and landed right back on her stick. With no hesitation she tucked it away into the goal.
The next few minutes passed by quickly, as both teams were able to maintain good possession yet not quite find a quality scoring chance. That all changed midway through the first half when Ohio capitalized on a penalty corner conceded by the Spartans. Brittany Zorn (Millersville, Md.) played the ball directly to Marcy Dull (Ephrata, Pa.) who wasted no time and fired a hard shot past `State's Elissa Unger.
The Spartans were quick to answer back, finding the net again in the 19th minute. Angie Lucik scored this second goal for the visitors, with an assist from Floor Rijpma. Just five minutes later, Michigan State's persistence in the offensive third paid off again, with Adelle Lever scoring off of her own rebound.
"They executed wide off of the goalkeeper," said head coach Neil Macmillan. "On some of those opportunities there's not much that Jen (McGill) can do. One of the goals hit the post. She's got the goal covered; it hits the post, and they get the rebound off of that. It's tough when that happens."
The `Cats were very close to tightening up the game near the end of the first half when freshman Cathryn Altdoerffer's (Conestoga, Pa.) shot found its way past the defense for a goal, but was later disallowed after the officials determined that the ball was kicked by an Ohio player. That was the second tough break for the Bobcats this season, as they also had a goal disallowed just before the half in the season-opening loss to Maryland.
Macmillan's team came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, as the Bobcats peppered the Michigan State net with shot after shot. Katherine Ballard (Charlottesville, Va.) registered two shots, one of which was on goal. Freshman Taylor Brown (Elkton, Md.) also hit a solid shot on goal in the opening minutes of the second half.
Out of the Ohio pressure came a quick counter-attack from the visitors, and just like that they were up 4-1 after Manouk Vernij was able to catch McGill on a near breakaway.
The Bobcats were not done just yet. From a terrific penalty corner play came a career-first goal by Brown. Zorn injected the ball to Katelyn Shelley (Ephrata, Pa.) who set it up perfectly for Brown. "It was awesome," said Brown. "Starting as a freshman, coming in and scoring...it's just an awesome feeling."
The `Cats really pushed for another goal, with Ballard firing two shots over the next few minutes. One was on goal and was met by Michigan State's Unger. The visitors scored one more goal in the match, a Floor Rijpma tally that capped off a fantastic weekend in Athens for the Spartan senior. In two games over two days (9/5 v. American being the other), Rijpma tallied four goals and one assist for a total of nine points. She scored a hat trick against the American Eagles just a day ago.
McGill ended the day with eight saves in net for Ohio, while Zorn and Paige Herr (Lancaster, Pa.) registered two and one assists, respectively.
"We created a lot of chances," said Macmillan. "Against a team like that our opportunities are very valuable, and we've got to make them count."
The next game for the Bobcats is on Friday at Ohio State. They will battle the Buckeyes at 4 pm and then will come home to face the Virginia Cavaliers on September 13 at 1 pm.