Ohio opened Mid-American Conference play last weekend with two losses in two games to Bowling Green and Toledo.
While it looked like Ohio (2-6-1, 0-2 MAC) was ready to take on the MAC, things just didn’t fall into place for the Bobcats. The chances were there, but as coach Aaron Rodgers put it, finishing in the final third was lacking.
Thus, as Ohio prepares for its next two conference games against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, here are a couple of things Ohio learned ahead of its first home conference games this season.
The Bobcats, for the first time in a few years, aren’t worried about scoring goals. Last season, their goal differential got as poor as -11. That’s not the case this year. Ohio can score, with several players adding a goal to their tally.
Where Ohio needs to grow is finishing this year.
Rodgers said after Tuesday’s practice that his team did a good job at setting up goals and getting well placed balls in a position to finish. But once the team got in front of goal, it couldn't complete the final step.
To counter that, in Tuesday’s practice, the team ran drills that worked on a series of passes before setting up a player to finish 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper. During the drill, the team played well. Taylor Smith made some phenomenal saves and from the right side the team was more consistent in finishing than the left.
With Vanessa Cordoba out with a foot injury, Erin Beurket has stepped in at the main goalkeeper. Though Rodgers said she will start this weekend, her spot may not be as cemented as it once was.
In the 1-on-1 drill, Smith made some acrobatic saves, even getting a shoutout from Rodgers at the end of the drill. Rodgers was a former keeper himself.
“I think right now, Erin has done fantastic in games,” Rodgers said. “I would imagine Erin would play this weekend, but if need be, Taylor’s done a great job, has a lot of experience and would be able to pick right were we left off.”
Not that Beurket is doing a bad job so far, but after Smith’s strong showing in training on Tuesday, she could potentially see some playing time this weekend if things don’t workout with Beurket.
Now that conference play has started, Ohio’s task is to bounce back from a slow opening weekend.
“I think it’s a great issue that we can deal with. I’d rather deal with trying to find the right times to score than having to find goals to score,” Rodgers said.
“We’ve just got to stay positive and continue to build on the great possession and the great opportunities that we are creating and find that final piece.”