Ohio was able to find a lot of success in its 2-1 loss to Kent State on Friday as the Bobcats were the better team statistically aside from goals scored.
With only one Mid-American Conference regular season game remaining for Ohio (4-9, 2-3 MAC) it has almost wrapped up the fifth seed in the conference tournament.
Here are five takeaways from the loss to Kent State (6-10, 3-1 MAC) that extends the Bobcats’ losing streak to five games:
Drawing penalty corners
Early on in the season Ohio struggled to draw penalty corners. Now, Ohio is drawing them against all opponents they play and converting on them.
The Kent State defense was allowing just under five penalty corners coming into Friday’s game and drew praise from Ohio coach Ali Johnstone.
The nine penalty corners that Ohio drew led to almost all of its shots Friday.
"If you get nine corners you want at least one or two goals out of corners,” Johnstone said. “We need to work on perfecting the corners a little bit more, we got the shots off, we missed a few and they actually read ours pretty well.”
Attacking ability of Leah Warren
Even though Warren plays on the right side of the Ohio backfield, she’s been a big threat for the Bobcats when she attacks.
When she gets shots on goal, they’re from penalty corners. She has a strong shot that is accurate.
Warren has scored two goals from penalty corners and has one assist.
On Friday she was able to dribble past the Kent State defense multiple times into the shooting circle and help Ohio draw penalty corners, which is where the lone goal was scored.
With Warren attacking, it leaves Ohio vulnerable on the counter-attack, but Ashley Wilbur and Amy Edgerton have been able to slow opponents down so the rest of the team can make it back to help.
Importance of Jillian Shive
Shive has been crucial to the Ohio attack with nine goals this season and having at least one in all four wins this season.
The Louisville transfer already has more goals than last year’s top goal scorer Kendall Ballard, who has not played in a single game this year for undisclosed reasons.
With the senior midfielder Ballard not playing the attack, Ohio is more focused on the forwards who have 16 goals combined and create the opportunities with the skill sets that each one has.
Shive’s ability in front of goal to redirect shots and take advantage of the chaos that there is on penalty corners to score has played a big role. Penalty corners have been crucial for Ohio and Shive is the one who has found the success.
All but three of her 27 shots have been on goal, forcing goalies to make saves and leading to penalty corners, which Shive is scoring.
Improvement of Alex Pennington
All three goalies on the Ohio roster have played at least 35 minutes this year, but Pennington has been the best this season. She has allowed just over two goals a game and is saving 66 percent of shots.
During the three-game winning streak in September, Pennington was crucial in making 12 saves and getting two shutouts in 1-0 games.
A key part of Pennington’s performance in goal has been her decisions to come out and dive at a player in the shooting circle who has beaten the Bobcat defense.
"We've been working a lot on angles for her and when to come out and when to stay home,” Johnstone said. “Today she took a ton of shots to the chest area and was diving all over the place and she performed really well."
The Bobcats’ defense has struggled during the five-game losing streak but showed some improvements in the loss to Kent State.
Ohio only allowed 10 shots to Kent State even though the ball was consistently in the Ohio half and for long periods around the shooting circle.
After the game Johnstone talked about the improved patience the Ohio defense had to not give Kent State penalty corners.
The Golden Flashes only had 3 corners for the game and struggled to get shots off with the strong Ohio defense within its own shooting circle.