A strong performance by the Ohio goalie and changes to the defense at halftime were not enough for Ohio. It lost to No. 3 Duke 4-0 on Friday at Pruitt Field.
For 13 minutes, Ohio’s defense was able to keep Duke’s attack off the boards until the Blue Devil’s top goal scorer, Rose Tynan, fired the ball into the top right of goal and scored. Three minutes later, the lead was doubles as a shot was deflected into the bottom corner. A third goal was added in the 32nd minute as the Ohio (4-10, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) defense struggled to stop the Duke (14-4, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) attack.
Ohio goalie Alex Pennington was called into action constantly throughout the game. She made 14 saves in her final home game.
“She was on fire,“ Ohio coach Ali Johnstone said. “I think this was one of the best games I've ever seen her play and I'm really, really proud of her for that. She made the right decisions at the right time."
In the first half, Ohio was under constant pressure. Duke was able to take advantage Ohio’s high press. Ohio’s defense was much better in the second half, though. It allowed only one goal while reducing the amount of time that Duke had the ball in the Ohio shooting circle.
That was mainly due to Ohio using a “half court” press that it didn’t use to reduce the space that Duke had to move around when attacking.
"We haven't really played with that this year and it worked out against the No. 3 in the country, so I think it works," Johnstone said.
Ohio only has one more game before the MAC tournament. Duke was a good test for Ohio before that tournament.
"It makes us step up our game right before we go into the MAC tournament,” defender Ashley Wilbur said. “I think it just makes us even more ready because we're improving our play right before we go."
Ohio will either be the fourth or fifth seed in the MAC tournament, depending on if it can beat Miami. The result of the Ball State-Longwood game will also have an effect.
The Ohio attack struggled to get anything to work. The Bobcats only had four shots, none of them on goal. Most of that was due to Duke keeping possession and Ohio struggling to string together passes when it had the opportunity.
It wasn’t until the 55th minute that Ohio attempted a shot, which came off the first Ohio penalty corner of the game.
"We missed a bunch of opportunities, a bounce here and a bounce there,” Johnstone said. “It’s hard to get a shot off against a No. 3 team, so I'm really impressed that we were able to do so."
Ohio wraps up the regular season with a trip to Oxford to take on MAC-leading Miami on Sunday at noon.