Kendall Ballard’s match-winning goal in overtime sparked an immediate celebration from the Bobcats. She was embraced in a group hug by all of her teammates. It was a long and exhausting match against Indiana.
But Ballard’s goal made it all worth it in Ohio’s 2-1 win over the Hoosiers.
Ohio clinched its first regular season with a winning record since 2011, when the team finished with an overall record of 20-5, won the Mid-American Conference Championship and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament before it lost to North Carolina.
The Bobcats have come a long way in the past few years, going from a team that struggled to even come close to reaching the .500 winning percentage mark. Now, the standard has been raised, and the expectations are higher after its improved play over the course of this season.
It’s impossible not to notice the drastic differences in 2019 compared to the year before. Ohio finished with a 5-12 overall record and went 2-4 in conference matches.
And second-year coach Ali Johnstone couldn’t be more proud.
“It’s the team. They’ve embraced everything. They’ve embraced the change. They’ve embraced our staff,” Johnstone said. “They’ve worked their tails off every single day. It’s so exciting for them, and I’m so proud of them.”
Ohio is currently on pace to get the second seed in the MAC Tournament this season just behind Kent State, who defeated Ohio 5-1 earlier in 2019, the Bobcats’ lone conference loss of the season. There is still a chance that the Bobcats will drop down to the third seed, pending on a match against the RedHawks on Friday.
Before Ohio can look ahead to November, it will have to keep its eyes focused on its upcoming two opponents to finish out the regular season strong.