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Ohio’s Elena Curley controls the ball against Longwood's Ellen Ross at Pruitt Field on Oct. 18, 2016. (FILE)

Field Hockey: Home opener for Ohio looking to end losing streak

Correction appended.

After beginning the season with four games on the road, Ohio (1-3) will take on Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday and Sunday.

After winning its first game of the season 6-1, Ohio has only managed one goal in the last three games, while giving up eight.

Improved offensive performance will be needed this weekend after facing two strong defenses. Ohio managed just six shots. Having not scored since Aug. 27, Ohio will need to do a better job converting on its opportunities.

Penalty corners are where last year’s leading scorer, Kendall Ballard, provided the most threat. Ballard is playing a more defensive role this year and she has already scored three goals from the corners. 

In the past two games, Ohio has only managed four penalty corners. Ballard hit the inside of the post on the only penalty corner against Syracuse, who has not allowed a goal this season. 

Games on back-to-back days are uncommon in college field hockey, but Ohio schedules them so that they do not have a weekend with only one game. Playing the same team in both games means the Bobcats can focus on preparing for just one team. The two games also challenge the team physically.

“It’s good to see how we're doing as a team on the second day, see how we recover, see how we can put some changes in place and we'll see tactically how it is from one game to the next,” coach Neil Macmillan said. “I think there's so much more of the physical challenge that we can look at this weekend."

This will be the second straight game against a Mid-American Conference opponent for VCU (2-1) as they lost 1-0 to Longwood on Sept. 3. Identical to Ohio there was one game where VCU exploded offensively with the rest being low scoring.

Withstanding the VCU attack in the first half will be key for Ohio. The Rams have scored four of their six goals in the first period. They play a different defense than teams Ohio has faced, but this year the Rams have been under pressure during the second half, with opponents taking 22 of their 29 shots and 15 of their 23 penalty corners. 

“They actually play a very different style at the back than either Syracuse or Cornell did so we're going to defend that differently,” Macmillan said. “That's going to be a big change for us.”

The upperclassmen for both teams are familiar with each other. They played in Athens in 2015. Ohio won 3-2. The Bobcats have won four time in five meetings all-time. Maria Russell scored the eventual game-winning goal in that game while also contributing an assist. 

Saturday's game will begin at noon at Pruitt Field. Sunday's game starts at 1 p.m.

“The key thing that has to stay the same is our mindset we've got to treat every game like it is Syracuse because we were pumped, the energy was fantastic going into the game,” Macmillan said. 


Correction: A previous version of this report misspelled Neil Macmillan's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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