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Ohio University forward Shae Robertson (#18) fighting for the ball with Kent state defender Kenosha Donkor (#14) at Chessa Field on Thursday Oct. 28th, 2021.

Soccer: Ohio falls to Kent State in Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals

Ohio’s season came to an abrupt end. A foul on Ohio’s Morgan Collica in the 86th minute gifted Kent State a penalty kick, which opened the door for Kent State defender Karly Hellstrom to score and bury Ohio 3-2 in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals.

The was the sudden end to a match that had been neck-and-neck for all but the final five minutes.

The Bobcats looked as experienced as they had been throughout the regular season from the outset. A shot by Madison Clayton found the net just two minutes after kickoff. The Bobcats and Golden Flashes rattled off a combined 12 shots before halftime, and that number was almost matched by the 10 combined fouls the two team earned in the first half. 

Ohio held the lead for over 40 minutes in the match, but Kent State managed to respond just before halftime. Forward Cameron Shedenhelm knocked in a shot on a favorable bounce off the hands of Ohio goalkeeper Sam Wexell. 

Wexell had her hands full dealing with the Kent State offense. The senior recorded just two saves on Friday, her lowest since Ohio’s match against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 21. The goalkeeper spent much of the match protecting the goal from Shedenhelm, who recorded six total shots and three shots on goal. Shedenhelm also helped Kent State take the lead after passing to defender Karly Hellstrom, who knocked a shot past Wexell to take the lead.

Ohio tied the match after Regan Berg scored off of a header in the 68th minute that snuck just past Kent State goalkeeper Sarah Melen.

The Bobcats and Flashes battled for the entirety of the match. Each squad fought for back and forth lead changes. There were a handful of tie-ups and a few substitutions for injury, and Melen was removed from the match in the 73rd minute after being given a red card for tripping Berg. 

The Flashes overcame the substitution at goalkeeper and locked the Bobcats down late in the match. Ohio recorded just 12 shots to Kent’s 13, marking the first time it had been outshot since its match against Toledo a month prior.

Paige Knorr and Olivia Sensky had their fair share of disruptions, breaking up numerous opportunities and resetting the ball at midfield. Although it couldn’t pulled out a win, Ohio played solid defense across the pitch and was excellent when passing the ball. 

Ohio didn’t want its season to end like it did, but it also has plenty to be proud of. Coach Aaron Rodgers was named the MAC Coach of the Year for his part in helping Ohio win its most conference games in a single season since 2006. It was defeated in just one match during MAC play, and forced three matches, including its first match against Kent State into scoreless draws.

The Bobcats had been picked to finish eighth in the MAC standings before the season began. By the end, they had become serious MAC Championship contenders and took Kent State down to the wire in the semifinals.

It was an abrupt end, but the Bobcats made it farther in the postseason than expected and performed leagues above the level that was expected of them.

@imchristosiegel

cs093219@ohio.edu 

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