Ohio has two games this weekend. One is against Mid-American Conference foe Ball State, and one is a matchup with in-state rival Ohio State.
Despite a loss on Sept. 30, Ohio (4-5, 2-0 MAC) is enjoying its best stretch this year with wins in three of its last four games.
The Bobcats have started MAC play strong. They’ve won two in a row, and they’re looking for a high seed in the conference tournament.
The Cardinals have struggled this year in all facets, scoring under a goal per game and allowing more than four.
But from what Ohio coach Ali Johnstone has seen, Ball State (1-10, 1-1 MAC) is getting better every game.
Ohio will have to adjust to Ball State’s playing field. It’s very different from Pruitt Field.
“Their turf is very different from ours, so we just need to be able to work our system on their home base which is a pretty big task," Johnstone said.
Ball State and Ohio have both beaten Appalachian State in MAC play by 1-0 scores. The Cardinals needed overtime for their lone win of the season.
Five players have combined to score the Cardinals’ nine goals this season. Michelle Shampton leads the team with three goals and has one of the two assists for Ball State.
Ball State has lost four straight against Ohio. The Cardinals’ last win came in 2013.
A win over Ball State would give Ohio an inside advantage to a top-four seed in the MAC tournament and guarantee that the lowest Ohio can finish is fifth. Last year, the fourth-placed team, Appalachian State, went 3-3 in conference.
The Bobcats and Buckeyes (6-6, 2-3 Big Ten) have played every year since 2000. The Buckeyes have won 14 of 18 games.
Ohio State has dominated other teams in the second half of games, scoring 19 goals while only allowing six goals.
Casey Cole is Ohio State’s biggest scoring threat. She has a team-leading six goals. Esther Clotet Alsina is just behind her with five goals and three assists.
The defense for Ohio State is anchored by goalie Aaliyah Hernandez, who has saved 71 percent of shots she’s faced. She’s only allowed 1.43 goals per game.
Ohio has not beat Ohio State since 2014. The last time Ohio won in Columbus was 2011.