Ohio took a downtrodden walk back to the bench Friday following a 4-3 overtime loss to Kent State. Ohio proved to every alumni and fan in attendance that it belonged on the same field as its opponent, but once again the team fell short.
Everything was lining up for the Bobcats to pull an upset over a team that has done nothing besides beat them for the past decade. They are now 0-12 against the Golden Flashes since 2013, which is one reason why Friday’s close loss is may sting a little more.
For Ohio, winning this match would have not only given it a 2-1 mark in MAC play, but it would have alleviated the pressure in upcoming matches. Sitting at 1-2, Ohio will likely have to win three out of its remaining four conference matches to earn a spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
While the MAC Tournament would be incredible for the Bobcats, this match exemplifies some of the steps still required to reach the upper echelon of the conference. A litany of turnovers and an inability to maintain control of the ball between the mid-lines are only some of the issues that plagued the Bobcats.
Early on, it appeared like the match would end poorly for Ohio as Patricia Strunk scored less than three minutes into the match. However, Meela Kopp’s goal tied the match at a goal apiece just under two minutes later. The early offense was all that the first quarter had in store, as the teams remained in a stalemate for the next stretch of play.
Early in the second quarter, a shot by Mijntje Ligtenberg was deflected by Noa Desmaretz into the back of the net, giving Ohio its first lead of the match. The score remained 2-1 in favor of Ohio for the remainder of the half.
Ohio was ahead on the scoreboard, but the match was dominated by Kent State in the first half. It had far more shots and penalty corners than Ohio, all while controlling the tempo of the match.
The third quarter was one that Ohio likely wants to forget. Other than an astonishing defensive save by Katelyn Whittle, her first this season, Kent State killed any power Ohio had. It dominated possession and scored the match-tying goal midway through the quarter.
As the fourth quarter began, both teams were locked in a battle. Every offensive attack was met with an equally impressive defensive stand. The Bobcats did not get the lead again until Ligtenberg scored yet another goal this season. The freshman added to her exemplary year by earning three points in the match, extending her total to a team-high 18.
Physics explains that every action is met with an opposite reaction. For the Golden Flashes, the reaction was to tie the match once again. After the goal, the Golden Flashes continued their offensive attack on the net with six penalty corners in the fourth quarter alone.
Regardless, Ohio was able to hold off the pressure and send the match into overtime, its first all season. It was also the first overtime bout since its season-ending loss to Miami and a double-overtime loss to Kent State last season.
Alas, it was not meant to be for the Bobcats. They fell as Strunk netted her second goal of the match. She scored to bookmark the match for the Golden Flashes, handing the Bobcats a loss that stings.
“Honestly, I told them that I couldn't ask anything more out of them,” Ohio coach Ali Johnstone said. “They played really well. It was a really good battle in that match. There was a great matchup and a lot of strategy going on with corners and how to defend them. That is what you ask of sports… We gave that match our all and just came up short.”