Ohio’s senior day ended in a success after a 1-0 victory over Miami at Chessa Field on Sunday. The win extended Ohio’s undefeated streak against Mid-American Conference opponents to eight matches.
The lone goal of the match was scored by fifth-year Sarina Dirrig off an assist from Regan Berg during the second half.
Ohio (10-3-2, 6-0-2 MAC) started off the match focused on defense, allowing Miami to rack up seven shots in the first half. Ohio recorded just four shots before halftime, but it managed to find a groove offensively in the second half. It racked up seven shots in the second half, including Dirrig’s match-winning goal.
The Bobcats were also able to capitalize off their opponents’ mistakes. The RedHawks (7-6-3, 4-4-0 MAC) received 10 penalties and a yellow card Sunday, with seven of those fouls occurring during the second half. Dirrig’s goal was scored just 32 seconds following a foul on RedHawks defender Kennedy Gray.
Ohio’s stringent defense proved once again to be the main factor for its success. Miami made just one shot during the second half, and four of its eight total shots were on goal. Ohio goalkeeper Sam Wexell once again proved her merit by earning her eighth shutout of the season.
Wexell doesn’t want to take all the credit, though. She said her teammates, especially the seniors, were responsible for the win.
“It means a lot, especially for the seniors,“ Wexell said. “That’s my class so, of course, it means a lot to me. I think our success this season is bringing out a lot more fans. Every game is always exciting. We always emphasize bringing energy from our bench, and I think the fans have the same effect. You just want to move the ball quicker, and everybody has to be louder if the fans are louder, so I feel like it just picks up the overall energy of our team.”
Wexell and the Bobcats played with confidence, and it showed Sunday. The confidence is new, and it has been built up following a disappointing season in the spring that was shortened due to COVID-19. This season turned over a new leaf for the Bobcats. They have allowed just two goals through its conference schedule and sit atop the MAC standings.
Wexell believes Ohio isn’t close to slowing down on defense this season.
“I think we have a lot of momentum,“ Wexell said. “I don’t really see anything getting in our way. Eastern Michigan is our next concern.”
Wexell has a right to be confident. Ohio has allowed the fewest goals in the MAC this season, and Wexell herself leads the conference in shutouts. Ohio has rarely cracked on defense this year. With only three games left in its regular season, Ohio is all but guaranteed to appear in the approaching MAC Tournament. Two of its final three opponents — Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan — are without winning records.
If Ohio’s defense holds up in the final stretch of its season, the road to the MAC Tournament will be wide open.