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Ohio's Karynne Baker tries to keep the ball away from Drexel's Puk Thewessen during the Drexel and Ohio matchup on Aug. 30, 2019. (FILE)

Field Hockey: Ohio erases 3-goal deficit, scores last-second goal to rally over Appalachian State

Ohio went into its first Mid-American Conference match of the 2019 season with hopes of continuing the success of their best start since 2011. To do so, it had to defeat Appalachian State on its home field in Boone, North Carolina. It was the first of three straight road matches for the Bobcats.

When the Mountaineers were up 5-2 at the start of the fourth quarter, it looked as if the match would be a repeat of the Bobcats’ first loss of the season to No. 23 Boston when they were outscored 4-1. If Ohio wanted to prove it’s truly a threat in the MAC early on, it had to make adjustments quickly.

After an impressive fourth quarter in which the Bobcats scored three unanswered goals with less than three minutes in regulation, it looked as if the match would go into overtime. Ohio didn’t even need the extra time to complete its comeback after it drew a penalty corner with 49 seconds left on the clock. After senior Brittany Keen sent the ball to junior Emma Spinetto from the corner to set the shot up, junior Leah Warren scored Ohio’s sixth goal of the match to win it for the Bobcats. The final score was 6-5.

Ohio (4-1) wouldn’t have been in a position for a comeback if it weren’t for its quick start in the first quarter. Less than two minutes into the match, Spinetto scored her second goal of the season to give the Bobcats an early 1-0 lead. One minute later, Appalachian State (6-1) responded with a goal from Anna Sparrelli to tie the match at 1-1. Later in the first quarter, redshirt sophomore scored her second goal of the season to give Ohio the lead again with a 2-1 score at the end of the first quarter.

Appalachian State opened up the second quarter with a goal from Chloe Bell to tie the match again at 2-2. The rest of the second quarter would remain quiet until the Mountaineers’ Rachel Fleig scored a goal with less than 20 seconds left in the half to give Appalachian State a 3-2 lead at halftime. It wasn’t an ideal score for the Bobcats, but it was certainly nothing that they couldn’t recover from.

Unfortunately for Ohio, the third quarter only increased Appalachian State’s lead. Veerle Van Heertum scored two goals for the Mountaineers, leaving the Bobcats down 5-2 at the end of the second. At this point, all Appalachian State needed was solid defense in the fourth quarter to maintain its lead. Ohio had other plans.

It all started when Warren scored her third goal of the season with an assist from Keen with 12 minutes remaining in the match. It may have seemed as if the goal was too little and too late, but the Bobcats continued their pursuit. At the 55-minute mark, Ohio narrowed Appalachian State’s lead to 5-4 with a goal from redshirt senior Kendall Ballard; it was her fourth goal on the season. Two minutes later, junior Jillian Shive tied the match with her second goal of the season off an assist from Ballard. It was now 5-5, and the Bobcats won their first MAC matchup after the last-minute goal from Warren.

This was certainly not Ohio’s strongest match of 2019, but it was its most thrilling. The only other comeback the Bobcats have had this season was during their first match; after being down 2-0 against Drexel at home, Ohio rallied in the second half to win 4-2. In both comebacks, the Bobcats scored four unanswered points to end the match.

The five goals allowed by the Bobcats is the most they’ve given up all season, but the six goals they scored is their best offensive performance of the season as well. This ability to play to their opponent’s level will be critical in some upcoming challenges ahead for the Bobcats. The endless effort should also threaten Ohio’s opponents, as the comeback has proven never to count the Bobcats out, even if they’re in what seems to be an ugly deficit on the road.

Appalachian State was a tough test for Ohio, but it was one that it passed. On Sunday, an even bigger challenge awaits:  No. 2 Duke (6-0) in a match that will be played in Durham, North Carolina. The match will start at noon.


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