Ohio took on Western Carolina for its first home match in nearly two weeks on Friday. After a long stint on the road, the Bobcats prevailed against the Catamounts 3-0. Ohio's depth was vital to its success in the hot afternoon match.
The match was a defensive battle from the start and the first 20 minutes were scoreless. Quickly thereafter, redshirt senior Haley Miller fired up the offense on a free kick after Western Carolina's Abbie Wise was assessed a yellow card. Western Carolina's goalie, Leanne Trudel, had little chance to save the bullet that was Miller's free kick. The rest of the first half remained scoreless after a stoppage in play due to injury.
Beginning in the second half, Ohio's ball pressure significantly increased and the team's confidence built.
"That's what we wanted to do from the beginning," head coach Aaron Rodgers said about Ohio's defensive pressure. "That's really what we focused on at halftime and we addressed our game plan."
The increased ball pressure led to quick success for the Bobcats. A beautiful cross from senior Regan Berg in the 57th minute set up graduate student Abby Townsend to notch her fourth consecutive match with a goal.
Western Carolina fought hard late in the game after a handball by the Bobcats set the Catamounts up for a free kick just outside the box. Unfortunately for Western Carolina, on offsides call shortly after squashed its chances to get back into the game.
In the 82nd minute, Ohio's lead grew. An assist from Townsend provided an opportunity for junior Aubrey Rea to net her third goal of the season. Western Carolina could not match the high energy play of Ohio in the latter half of the match.
"We were able to rotate a lot of people though especially for this being a one-game weekend," Rodgers said. "Giving people a lot of opportunities to play this nonconference segment helped get them acclimated to the intensity of college soccer."