An Alisa Arthur goal in the ninth minute of play proved to be the decisive moment in Ohio’s MAC opener with Kent State, as they lost 1-0 on Thursday evening at Chessa Field.
She received a ball inside the box, with her back to the goal; she then turned and fired a goal into the top left corner with her left foot. Arthur was a force up front for the Golden Flashes for most of the game.
“We were good for the first four or five minutes and then I think they ramped their intensity up and scored a good goal in the first 10 minutes,” Ohio Coach Aaron Rodgers said. “(Arthur) is a good player; she’s a really nice player and finished a great goal. She caused some problems, but we made adjustments and we were fine.”
In the following 20 minutes, Kent State continued to press and push the Bobcats back into their own third of the field, playing very physically and bouncing the ball around, teetering on the brink of scoring.
However, after that and for the duration of the game, Rodgers said it was “one-way traffic.”
“It’s interesting to see the stats, I mean, we had the ball almost 60% of the time in the whole game,” Rodgers said. “They had more shots than us, but they were on counterattacks – not really dangerous.”
The stats will say that Kent State had six shots on goal to Ohio’s one; they’ll say that the Bobcats had 6 corners to the Golden Flashes’ 2, and the scoreboard will say that it was 1-0, but the play on the field did not entirely reflect that.
Going into halftime, Ohio was in Kent State’s third, creating numerous good chances: Ella Deevers was in a great position on the left wing but was offside; Ellie Greenwell played a beautiful backheel flick to put Rylee Mensel in, who drove baseline, knocked a ball into the penalty area that found Kali Stock at the top of the box but her shot was wide. The final chance of the half was when Stock played a ball deep into the box, but it found a Kent State defender’s head. The clear was back across goal in a very dangerous position for a corner. The corner, taken by Mensel, ended up with Stock, who rifled a shot just wide of the left post.
“We could get the ball into the final third, and we just lacked that cutting edge to finish the chances,” Rodgers said. “I think that’s something we’re definitely going to have to fix moving forward as we continue onto conference play.”
The second half was even more frustrating for the Bobcats. They won numerous balls in very dangerous positions, but they overplayed the final ball. They made nice runs and passes down each wing, but they were offside. They had corners and set pieces in the right spots of the field, but they could not meet the ball with their heads; it always fell to Kent State.
It came to a crescendo in the final minute: Mensel passed a corner kick to Aubrey Rea, who shook off two Kent State defenders with fast feet, and then blasted a right-footed strike that looked like it was going to find the side netting, but it missed left; Ohio’s efforts came up futile.
“We moved it faster in the second half,” Rodgers said. “That was critical. If they’re going to press, they can’t keep up with the pace of the ball, and so we were able to move it faster ... we were able to find our overloads and create moments in the final third. We just have to finish the chances.”
The Bobcats will travel to Buffalo this weekend, where they look to spoil Buffalo’s home conference opener.