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Ohio's Kendall Ballard attempts to keep the ball away from Indiana University during the game Aug. 28. (FILE)

Field Hockey: Ohio plays MAC opponent and top-20 team this weekend

Ohio will play its second conference game of the season against Missouri State on Friday, followed by a non-conference game Sunday against Wake Forest, the 17th-ranked team in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association rankings.

Missouri State (1-7, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) comes to Pruitt Field on Friday night at 5 p.m., coming off a 1-0 loss to Miami in their first conference game. The Bears only allowed one goal, despite allowing 23 shots, including 11 on target.

The Missouri State defense has held opponents to 16 shots per game while only taking eight shots a game. The Bears have allowed opponents to get 72 corners in their first eight games — where the Bobcats have had their last four goals start from.

The second half has been a struggle for the Bears. They've given up 14 goals and only scored three. That's a direct result of being out-shot in the second half 80-28. Ohio has struggled in the second half of games, too, scoring only nine goals.

Ohio (4-6, 1-0 MAC) will then head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to take on Wake Forest (5-5, 0-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) in a non-conference game. The records may be similar, but Wake Forest has played six teams that are currently ranked in the Top-20 by the NFHCA.

Freshman Nicola Pluta leads the Demon Deacons with 11 goals on the season. The Demon Deacons are only averaging 2.6 goals per game but are holding their opponents to 2.1 goals per game.

Ohio coach Neil Macmillan is very familiar with Wake Forest — he was their coach from 1999 to 2004. Macmillan led the Deacons to the Final Four of the National Championships five times in his six years in Winston-Salem.

“Like anyone, if you put them under pressure, you can be successful so we need to figure out how best to do that and challenge them,” Macmillan said.

Ohio’s series record against Wake Forest is 2-5-1 all-time. Since Macmillan arrived in Athens, the Bobcats are 1-3 against his old squad.


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