From the opening whistle, Liberty (3-1) announced its intentions to attack. Liberty's leading goal scorer Agueda Moroni ran through the middle of the Ohio (1-3) defense before firing a shot that goalkeeper Sophia Boothby saved.
It was the beginning of a long day for the Ohio defense, as it was constantly trying to stop Liberty from taking shots. The Bobcats' attacking strategy that did not work.
Five goals in the span of 12 minutes led to Ohio getting blown out, 7-0, to No. 23 Liberty on Sunday at Pruitt Field.
The loss was Ohio's worst since 2014. The Bobcats also gave up seven goals to the Flames in 2015, but were able to score one of their own.
Ohio started the game pressuring Liberty, but it was not successful as Liberty easily found the openings in the defense with its speed and skill. The Flames scored five goals in the first 23 minutes.
“When you give a team like that with speed and skill at that level that much space, then it’s just too much,” coach Ali Johnstone said.
Moroni and Jill Bolton were involved in nearly every Liberty attacks. Each of them scored a hat trick and combined for 13 shots.
As Ohio struggled to possess the ball in the first half, the backfield of Leah Warren, Ashley Wilbur and Amy Edgerton had Liberty players continually using their speed to try to get past them.
"As defenders, you want to keep the ball out of the goal as much as you can and obviously seven goals is tough, but I think we definitely had some positives in there," Edgerton said.
The Bobcats were able to steal the ball and slow down the attacks, but usually only for a brief period before Liberty attacked again.
At halftime, Ohio changed its formation and focused on reducing open space instead of pressuring the Flames. It worked better. Liberty only had three shots and scored two more goals.
“Our work ethic was there the whole time. It was just small adjustments that we kind of had to work out the kinks, but it looked good once we figured those out," Edgerton said.
The Bobcats did not attempt a single shot on goal and struggled to get the ball inside the shooting circle.
“You put on your jets for forty yards and then you still have to use all that stick skills to get into the circle and you've run out its really hard to get shots off,” Johnstone said.
It was a big difference from the first three games of the season, when the Bobcats had 45 shots, 31 of them on goal.
Ohio will now travel to Bloomington, Indiana to take Stanford (0-3) Thursday at 3:30 p.m.