Story courtesy of Ohio Media Relations
KENT, Ohio - Finding themselves in an unfamiliar position, the Ohio field hockey team responded by crushing sixth-seeded Missouri State (6-15, 1-9 MAC), 7-0, in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Thursday afternoon at Murphy-Mellis Field. The third-seeded Bobcats (10-11, 6-4 MAC) hadn't played a MAC quarterfinal match since 2005, earning a bye each of the last two years.
Junior Marcy Dull (Ephrata, Pa.) earned her first-career hat trick to pace an Ohio attack that scored its most goals in a MAC Tournament game ever. The 'Cats' previous high was five in the 1998 tournament. The seven goals also marked the first time Ohio achieved the feat since doing so Oct. 19, 2001 against Miami, when the Bobcats defeated the RedHawks, 9-0. The seven-goal victory was Ohio's largest margin of victory since that 2001 win over Miami as well.
Dull got things rolling for Ohio early, as she scored the first of her three goals just 1:20 into the match on the first shot of the game, dribbling around the Bears' goalie for the 1-0 lead. Senior Nikki Gnozzio (Flanders, N.J.) pushed the lead to 2-0 in the 20th minute on her fifth goal of the season. Junior Katelyn Shelley (Ephrata, Pa.) garnered the assist on the goal.
Missouri State would stay within striking distance, as the Bobcats took their 2-0 advantage into halftime. Ohio outshot the Bears, 6-3, in the first frame and held a 4-1 edge in penalty corners.
The Bobcats exploded for a season-best five goals in the second half, however, extinguishing any hopes of a Missouri State rally. Sophomore Paige Herr (Lancaster, Pa.) scored her third goal in as many games just over two minutes into the second stanza, off an assist from senior Rachelle Coetzee (Bloemfontein, S.A.). Dull then scored her second goal of the match five minutes later to put Ohio on top 4-0. Shelley earned her second assist of the match on Dull's breakaway goal.
"(The scoring) was a product of us playing some nice hockey further down the field. We worked the ball forward well and created opportunities," Ohio head coach Neil Macmillan said. "It was nice in both halves to score early and take care of business. To go into halftime up 2-0 was good, but to come out and score right away and put ourselves in a position to finish them off early (in the second half) was great."
A pair of unassisted goals off of penalty corner rebounds by Shelley, who finished with four points on the day, and senior Estienne Coetzee (Bloemfontein, S.A.) stretched the Bobcat lead to 6-0. Dull then finished off Ohio's outburst, completing her hat trick in the final minute of play off an assist from junior Taylor Anderson (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
The Bobcats held Missouri State without a shot in the second half, while firing 17 of their own. Ohio finished the match holding a 23-3 edge in shots and a 15-1 advantage in penalty corners, including 11 corners in the second half. Rachelle Coetzee and sophomore Louzeth Schutte (Senekal, S.A.) led Ohio with five shots each.
"Defensively we were very sound. We spoke at the half about stepping it up and doing a better job," Macmillan said. "We executed as we needed to. It was exciting that we rotated a lot of players across the back and Jen (McGill) got in goal for a good 13 minutes. You have the advantage in tournaments, if you get up, to rest some players for future days and I hope that will be an advantage for us tomorrow."
Senior goalie Jessie Martin (Louisville, Ky.) earned her tenth win of the season, making two saves before being replaced by freshman Jen McGill (Louisville, Ky.), who played the final 13 minutes in net. Missouri State goalies Jessica Schuster and Mackenzi Crawford combined to make nine stops on the day.
With the win, Ohio moved to 16-8 all-time against the Bears and remained perfect against Missouri State since they joined the MAC in 2005 (9-0).
The Bobcats battle second-seeded Miami tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. on Kent State's Murphy-Mellis Field, with the winner advancing to Saturday's championship game. The RedHawks defeated Ohio by a goal in their two matches earlier this season. Live stats for tomorrow's semifinal are available by clicking here.
"We have to execute better than we did the previous two matches (with Miami)," Macmillan said. "In those games we gave up a lot of corners, so our corner defense needs to be better and not allowing them corner opportunities will be key."