The Bobcats ended their regular season home schedule with back-to-back wins, and they needed to keep the momentum going on the road if they wanted to improve the standing in the Mid-American Conference.
On Thursday, Ohio picked up where it left off as it traveled to Oxford for a match against rival Miami. With a decisive 5-2 victory over the RedHawks (4-12-1, 3-6-1 MAC), the Bobcats made sure they would be playing postseason soccer and secured a spot in the MAC tournament.
But they don’t just want to play playoff soccer. The Bobcats want to play another playoff match at Chessa Field. Hosting a MAC tournament game in Athens for the first time in program history last season made Ohio hungry to do it again. A win over Ball State, who currently ranks second in the MAC, would’ve helped Ohio reach its goal.
The Bobcats battled with Cardinals and took the match to overtime on Sunday, but Ball State found the back of the net early in the extra period and gave the Cardinals (14-4, 8-2 MAC) a 2-1 victory with just one match left in Ohio’s (10-7-1, 5-4-1 MAC) regular season.
Game one: Miami
Ohio has had success all year when it attacks the opposing defense early and force opponents to match its aggression.
That mindset continued for the Bobcats against the RedHawks on Thursday, and they relied on one of their best players to give Ohio the early advantage.
Abby Townsend found the back of the net in just the sixth minute of the match to give Ohio a 1-0 advantage. She quickly became the focal point of the Bobcats’ offense for the entire match.
Townsend ended the Miami match with two goals scored and two assists as Ohio came away with the 5-2 victory.
The Bobcats’ win over Miami gave them 10 victories on the season and reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2003.
Game two: Ball State
The Bobcats knew Ball State would be a tough matchup. The Cardinals came into Sunday’s match ranked second in the MAC and has only lost four matches all season.
But the Bobcats are focused on securing a home MAC tournament match, and a win over Ball State would help them make that a reality.
Ohio needed to stick what had been working all season to topple Ball State: starting the match aggressive and forcing the Cardinals to keep up.
That’s what the Bobcats did, too. Sarina Dirrig scored in the fifth minute and gave them an early 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last long, however, as Ball State evened up the match in the 27th minute, thanks to a Peighton Cook goal.
The match stayed at 1-1 until the end of regulation, as Ohio and Ball State found themselves in a physical battle with both teams collecting a yellow card in the second half.
The Bobcats had fought and played tough against the Cardinals headed into overtime. But Ball State put the pressure on Ohio quickly in the extra period and found the back of the net in the 92nd minute to give the Cardinals a 2-1 win.
Ohio ends the regular season with a trip to Kent State University to take on the Golden Flashes (5-9-3, 3-5-2). The Bobcats currently sit at third place in the MAC with 16 points. A win over Kent State would secure a home playoff match for the Bobcats.
First touch from Dix Stadium on Thursday is scheduled for 3 p.m.