Ohio is off to a winning season in conference play as a result of team and individual improvement throughout the season.
Players said last week that they were a completely different team than a month prior, and it shows as the team was still figuring out what roles players would be in for the Bobcats (6-8, 3-1 Mid-American Conference).
After last season, Ohio had to replace three of its top four offensive weapons with only Maria Russell returning. Kendall Ballard has stepped up mightily in her second season in Athens, scoring 12 goals after only netting one last year.
Brittany Keen and Amelia Milton have become key members in the offensive half despite it being both of their first seasons at Ohio. Keen has found herself on the score sheet much more than Milton, as she has five goals and four assists thus far. Milton has one goal and three assists so far, but more importantly, she stabilized the midfield due to players having to move around as a result of injuries.
The Bobcats are not finding as many weapons as last year as only three players have more than one goal this year. Ohio did not know that Ballard would step up a huge amount but Russell has only scored six goals this year — half the number she scored last year.
Defensively Ohio is allowing three goals per game this season, but only two in MAC play.
Coach Neil Macmillan made a goalie change right before conference play as Alex Pennington replaced Lina Trucco in net. The team has gone 4-2 in her starts since the switch. Pennington has allowed, on average, 2.72 goals per game which is slightly better than Trucco’s 3.17, but not by a large amount.
Conference games are the only games that count, so it is good that all the injuries that the Bobcats have experienced have been in non-conference play. Most of the injured players are returning just in time.
Macmillan has used 21 players this year as a result of the injuries, trying to find the right players with returners being out.
Ohio is on the upswing and has made vast improvements from the start of the season and will need to play their best if they want to beat their final two MAC opponents, Kent State (9-6, 5-0 MAC) and Miami (8-7, 3-1 MAC).