Ohio will travel to New York state this weekend to take on two tough opponents, Cornell and nationally-ranked Syracuse. The Bobcats have shown signs of improvement in the first two games of the season.
The season opened with a weekend split for the Bobcats. The team saw positives and negatives in both games.
“Overall it was good," head coach Neil Macmillan said. "We actually played well in the Ball State game and I would have said that looking at the film that we were in their end more than they were in ours.”
The six goals scored against Saint Louis were the most in a game by Ohio since Sept. 1, 2012 when they scored 9. Kendall Ballard started the season on a great note with a hat trick after leading the team with 12 goals last year.
In the loss to Ball State, the Bobcats' defense allowed four goals and were not able to stop the Cardinals’ chances, while the offense could not convert on the six penalty corners they got. Karynne Baker picked up the lone Ohio goal, her second of the season, and has already more goals than last year.
Cornell squeaked by Ohio last year 2-1 in the teams' first ever meeting and Ohio will be Cornell's opening game this year. The top-two goal scorers return from last year’s offense that averaged just under three goals a game along with a defense that allowed under two goals a game.
The stats showed that Cornell was in control all throughout the game last year as it outshot Ohio 17-7 and 7-4 on penalty corners with all goals coming in the second half, Ballard scored for Ohio with less than two minutes left.
“I think we matchup with them well," Macmillan said. "We did last year, yeah, they had a lot more shots but the game was close and we were in it pretty much the whole way so I'm looking forward to that game.”
Sunday’s game against No. 5 Syracuse (3-0) will be a challenge. No goals have been recorded against the Syracuse defense in the first three games of the year, while the offense has scored eight goals from five different players.
Ohio is 1-2 all-time against Syracuse with the only win being 2-1 in overtime in 2000 and the most recent games resulting in a combined 13-0 score line in two games. Five current Bobcats played against Syracuse in 2014, the last meeting, combining for four shots and one on goal in the 7-0 loss. Playing a high-level team will showcase the weaknesses of the Bobcats.
“They’re no different in age, athletically we’re going to be about the same, yes they got maybe some little bit better skill," Macmillan said. "When it comes down to a game anything can happen out there."
The Ohio freshmen showed their ability before the season that four true freshmen and a redshirt freshman start, contributing to the team in all facets. Emma Spinnetto was the only one to net a goal in the first two games while Leah Warren picked up an assist in the loss to Ball State.
Cornell and Syracuse will be tough challenges but anything can happen during the game even if the teams differ in skill.
“If we show the right energy and the right will to win and hit on our right values we're competitive with them and that's we are asking for," Macmillan said. "We're asking for a good competitive game and then you see where you are at the end of seventy minutes."
Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Neil Macmillan's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.