Ohio came into its final weekend of Mid-American Conference home play desperately needing six points.
It accomplished the first half of that goal and earned a crucial three points with a 2-1 win over Central Michigan on Friday at Chessa Field thanks to a goal and assist from Alivia Milesky.
The senior scored in the first minute and earned a match-winning assist in the 46th minute to give Ohio its first win in two weeks.
“As we huddled up, I said this is it, if I’m going to fight for you, you’re going to fight for me,” Milesky said. “I knew going in that I would need to make a difference in the game.”
Milesky wasted no time to do that Friday. She kickstarted the Bobcats’ afternoon with a diving header on a cross from sophomore Olivia Sensky to give Ohio the lead after just one minute.
The Chippewas were quick to respond to the early goal, however, and tied the match 14 minutes later. Junior Maddie West lifted a ball over the top of Ohio’s defense for freshman Lauren DeBeau, who fired a shot past Ohio goalkeeper Sydney Malham.
After tying the match, Central Michigan began to take control and show why it entered the weekend third in the MAC standings. Ohio’s defense stood strong for most of the half, though, until the Chippewas had a goal disallowed for offside with five minutes left. After that, the Bobcats settled down and entered halftime with the match knotted at 1-1.
Just as they had in the first half, the Bobcats came out firing in the second half and got another early goal.
It came off an Ohio counterattack, unsurprisingly led by Milesky.
She drove into the box and played the ball across the front of the goal for junior Sarina Dirrig to score what ultimately became the match-winning goal.
“I was happy to score the goal and it’s great for my confidence,” Dirrig said.
This season, it seems that whenever Ohio has needed someone to be there in the big moments, it has been Milesky. She’s been involved in multiple match-winning goals in overtime this season and leads the Bobcats with seven goals.
The Bobcats needed as much energy as they could build to defeat the Chippewas, and it was Milesky who ensured Ohio had plenty of it.
“In our last couple of games, we spotted the teams early goals and we had to fight back,” coach Aaron Rodgers said. “Today we knew that we had to come out with a lot of energy, we had to come out with a 90-minute effort.”
That energy — and Milesky’s success — is important if the Bobcats want to cement their spot in the MAC Tournament and avoid a match against one of the top teams in the conference.
Ohio is back in action Sunday at Chessa Field against Eastern Michigan at 1 p.m. for its last home match of the regular season.