After winning its match 5-2 against Longwood, Ohio secured the fourth seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in November.
On senior day, the stands were filled with family, friends and fans of the players, and the energy was the highest Pruitt Field had felt all year. From the celebration of the non-returning seniors, to the final victorious shouting of the Ohio fight song by the players after the match, the crowd brought its A-game, as did Ohio.
“It (the energy of the crowd) means a whole lot to us,” forward Jillian Shive said. “Obviously it shook Longwood and got them really out of control.”
By the end of the first half, Ohio had gone on a 5-0 run with only six total shots taken, all of which were on goal. This shot percentage of 83.33 in the first two periods all but ensured a Bobcat victory and a shot at a playoff run.
The match was quickly taken over by the Bobcats as they recorded their first goal by forward Noa Desmaretz that was assisted by midfielder/defender Kaelyn Long within minutes after the start. The score was soon followed by another Bobcat goal from midfielder Sienna Sakich — her first of the season.
After the first period, Ohio led an ongoing attack on the Longwood defense, scoring three goals in the second alone. Two of these goals came from penalty strokes taken by defender Meela Kopp and Shive at the beginning and end of the period, respectively. Shive recorded another goal in the 23rd minute assisted by midfielder Leah Warren.
As a super senior, this was Shive’s final home match. She said it meant so much to her to be able to accomplish a great team win, and it felt amazing to be able to put on such a display to serve as a final goodbye to Pruitt Field.
“Five goals is incredible on senior day, and to get some for myself, it’s obviously really special, but it was the whole team effort that was so impressive,” Shive said.
The second half consisted of mainly defensive gameplay for Ohio as it aimed to maintain its lead. Ohio gave up two goals in the second half from Longwood forward Floor Schouten and defender Luna Lopez, but it was not enough for a comeback.
Ohio coach Ali Johnstone expressed that Longwood was by no means an easy opponent to beat, and she is proud of how her players carried themselves throughout the match in order to pull off the victory.
“Not many teams have scored goals on Longwood, and we scored five in the first half,” Johnstone said. “It’s dreamy. I don’t even have words for it.”
Johnstone emphasized how much Ohio had riding on the match. She said that with the threat of cutting their season short and not making the tournament looming over the heads of the players, they were still able to come together and pull off one of the best wins of their season.
“There was some serious pressure on our team, so it’s hard to play with that,'' Johnstone said. “They played with heart. They played with effort.”
When the final buzzer sounded, and the Bobcats sprinted on the field in celebration, the final score stood at 5-2. The season-long question of whether or not Ohio would do well enough to make the MAC Tournament was put to rest.
“I think we made a huge statement heading into tournament time,” Shive said. “We’re extremely hyped up and ready to keep working.”