The Bobcats have faced opponents with a variety of strategies this year, and they are diversifying their attack to meet the challenge.
Coach Stacy Strauss is confident her players can adjust with ease to formation changes and any other changes that may come their way.
During practice Sept. 10, a day before the Bobcats faced off against Ohio State, Strauss suggested the team switch formations from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 to give Ohio a potential edge.
“We took on that formation during Ohio State, and she brought it up on Saturday before our practice,” defender Remi Famodu said. “Having just put it in, and it worked out, and then we found out that we had a similar team coming up against us (Friday). We decided to go with the 3-5-2 again.”
Strauss typically will use the formation against teams with wide outside midfielders and will continue to use it depending on the players who can play that day. The strong communication on the field has made the change easier for goalkeeper Mattie Liston.
“We’ve been trying a few new things in formations, so it is something new for us,” Liston said. “But I think overall we’ve done a good job of communicating and letting everyone know and keeping everyone back.”
The change does not restrict the team to a single formation but gives several options for the future. The Bobcats feel more comfortable knowing it can adjust formations depending on the opponent, the surface of the field or the style of play, Strauss said.
“Natalie Bechtel has helped us play in the 3-5-2. It just depends on who is healthy within our team and where our needs are,” Strauss said. “We have had to adjust a little bit with Sara Seitz out due to injury, so there are a lot of factors that come into it. The 3-5-2 has been the best fit for the players we have healthy and eligible to play.”
Several players have taken on larger roles. Famodu has been placed centrally in the three-defender backline. Katie Kemen has also been called upon to fill the role of the injured Seitz as a defensive midfielder.
“I think our back three have had to adjust the most. Remi has had to play an even greater and more important role,” Strauss said. “It’s a little different for our forwards but not too much. I think Toye (Famodu) has adjusted well at midfield rather than up top.”
The new formation has produced fairly successful results with a strong defensive effort against Ohio State and a 1-0 win against Indiana State.
The 4-3-3 is a formation Ohio will not yet abandon. It will remain in Strauss’ repertoire as the team enters the Mid-American Conference schedule.
Thanks to the altered attack, the Bobcats will head into conference play with higher chances in capturing their first MAC Championship since 2004.