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Quintin Tostevin (21) goes to pass the ball to her teammate at the game against Northern Kentucky University Sept. 3, 2023, at Chessa Field, in Athens, Ohio.

Soccer: Ohio and Northern Kentucky draw, heat wins

Ohio welcomed Northern Kentucky to Chessa Field for Senior Day. It was a Sunday scorcher that ended in a 0-0 draw. By the 70th minute, nearly every player on the pitch had succumbed to the effects of the mid-90-degree “feels like" temperature that lasted throughout the game, which turned the final 20 minutes into a poorly played crawl.

Ohio is coming off of a Thursday 1-0 loss at Marshall, and Northern Kentucky defeated fellow MAC member Miami 1-0 on the same day – making this a measurable, meaningful performance to be had. 

Both teams had good chances in this game – the Bobcats with more, though, as they recorded 24 total and 12 shots on goal to the Norse’s six and three. Impatient and nonurgent play in the final third kept the ball from hitting the back of the net for either squad. 

The first half kicked off and the Norse very quickly found their footing. Their speedy, long and active forwards spent the first ten or so minutes teetering around outside of the Bobcat box, but nothing came of it beyond some impressive skills and a very pretty trivela through ball that led to just a semblance of a chance. 

The first “real” chance was had by reigning MAC Player of the Week Izzi Boyd, who poached a ball just outside of Northern Kentucky’s box and wiggled around the only defender between herself and the keeper, but it was poked away in a last-ditch effort. Boyd and Julianna Farina were the standout efforts during their first shifts of the game, connecting for multiple opportunities that lacked a precise final ball.  Boyd ripped a shot just wide in the 15th minute that seemed to indicate she was due for a goal, but it never came. 

Around the 30th minute, the first substitutions came on for Ohio, including Scout Murray and Ella Deevers, among others. 

Murray, who occupied the center forward role in place of Boyd, completely changed how the game was being played. She dropped back into the midfield and connected with Deevers on her right for a set of chances going into halftime. Notably, they won more balls with this unit on the field, they kept it out of their own third of the field more, and their possessions were longer and of a higher quality. 

The final chance of the half, spear-headed by a long through ball to Murray, was ruined when a touch ran a little too long and ruined the angle for the sophomore from Chicago. 

Everyone was getting gradually more tired with the heat; Northern Kentucky’s head coach received a yellow card for complaining about the ref’s whistle, players were chirping back and forth, elbows were being thrown, Haley Miller received her own yellow for accumulation – it was getting uglier.

However, chances were still there into and after the 60th minute. Rayann Pruss put a fast header onto the unfriendly underside of the crossbar, leaving the Bobcats centimeters from a 1-0 lead. Within two minutes of Murray checking back in, she stood alone, in the box, with the ball on a trajectory towards her head and not a defender within a distance that would matter: she put it right to the keeper and the energy pitchside seemed to be coming to terms with a draw. 

From there, the gaps between the thirds of the field seemed to shrink as players were becoming fatigued. Shots were rifled, but never anywhere but off frame or directly at a keeper. Kennedy Rieple was shown yellow for kicking a dead ball away, and the final efforts from both teams were futile; 0-0 was the final. 

Ohio takes the field again Thursday in Columbus, where they will play in-state foe Ohio State.

With MAC play quickly on the horizon, the Bobcats desperately need to figure out their offensive strategy; they have scored two goals in their last four games, and their final passes have been leaving much to be desired if this team has any plans to compete for a conference tournament spot.

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