Ohio returned to Chessa Field after a short away stint to face off against Northern Kentucky. With beautiful weather once again, the Bobcats hoped to end Thursday happy and reenter the win column. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it done as the Norse downed them 1-0.
The Bobcats (3-2) began the match at a high pace. There were plenty of field changes early on, with the ball drawing near to both ends of the pitch numerous times in just the first few minutes. Ohio failed to capitalize on a strong effort six minutes in. The Bobcats tried to push the ball to the goal multiple times, but the Norse disrupted clean passes. The pitch proved to be slippery from the week’s rain, and the players struggled to get good footing and cut sharply at times.
There was plenty of toughness in Thursday’s match. A slew of headers were displayed across the first half, along with several trips and falls. Players were resilient, however, getting right back up after taking a shot to the face or being tackled. It wasn’t enough to impress coach Aaron Rodgers, though.
“We have to be a little bit better at dealing with that physicality, not letting it kind of knock our momentum out,” Rodgers said. “It was a very similar game (to Sunday’s) in that standpoint, and we didn’t do a good enough job matching that.”
The Bobcats and Norse entered halftime knotted at zero apiece. Ohio’s strong communication wasn’t enough as both teams got limited opportunities around the goal. The Bobcats had three shots on goal to the Norse’s one in the first half.
The second half mirrored the first in terms of physicality and limited opportunities. Offsides penalties broke up a few attempts at shots for either team. Any momentum carried by either team was broken up for the first 15 minutes.
In the 62nd minute, Northern Kentucky’s Sofia Wilmes broke through her defender and got goalkeeper Sam Wexell to bite on a block while sneaking the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal. The match’s tie at last ended and put the Norse up for good.
Ohio had a few shots, but almost all were straight to Northern Kentucky’s goalkeeper, Mimi Stines. In the 79th minute, a header from Haley Miller barely missed the goal. The Bobcats attempted to put more pressure on late with strong efforts from Olivia Sensky and Isabella Ginocchi but couldn’t net anything.
Ohio looked superior on the stat sheet, with 10 shots to Northern Kentucky’s four. Ohio also had six shots on goal to Northern Kentucky’s two but ultimately still fell. Ohio’s physicality was shown through 12 fouls from the Norse and 11 on the Bobcats.
Ohio has severely missed senior forward Abby Townsend, who’s missed the last three matches.
“Hopefully she’ll be back for Sunday, but we’re not quite sure,“ Rodgers said. “It’s out of our hands at this point.”
The Bobcats travel to Cleveland to take on a struggling Cleveland State team Sunday. The Vikings are 1-4-1, and Ohio will shoot for another winning streak.