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Abby Townsend (16) fights a defender for the ball during the Ohio versus Northern Illinois match at Chessa Field on Oct. 6, 2022.

Soccer: Ohio wraps up non-conference play with a defeat against James Madison

On Thursday, Ohio (2-2-2) traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia, for a matchup against James Madison. Ohio is entering this second road match in a row after falling to Ohio State 4-1 on Sunday. James Madison (2-2-3) is coming off a 0-0 draw at Georgetown. 

At the beginning of the match, Ohio and James Madison came out alert on defense, and neither team could get a shot off before the 11-minute mark. The first 45-minutes of this match were highlighted by two elite defenses limiting the opposition to minimal offensive opportunities. 

Ohio and James Madison only managed one shot in the first half each. The Bobcats did have three corner-kick opportunities, but none could find the back of the net, and both teams entered the break scoreless.

Entering the second half, James Madison began to quicken up the tempo of their offense, rattling off four shots in four minutes early into the half. In the 53rd minute, James Madison midfielder Lexi Vanderlinden snuck a shot into the Ohio net from a quality assist from forward Amanda Attanasi, putting James Madison up 1-0. 

While James Madison took the lead early into the second half, Ohio could not swing the momentum back into their favor on the offensive side of the ball for the rest of the match. Ohio could not break through James Madison’s defense during the second half and could only manage one shot attempt. 

Ohio has had offensive struggles in previous games this season; typically, the team has outshot its opponents and maintained a defensive momentum that generates a favorable gap in shots per game. However, James Madison consistently pressured the Ohio defense throughout the second half, resulting in minimal chances for the Bobcats to swing momentum back in their favor.

Even though James Madison was applying consistent offensive pressure for the entirety of the second half, Ohio goalkeeper Celeste Sloma performed excellently in the net for the Bobcats, recording seven saves in the half, and was able to mitigate the damage James Madison could have done expertly.

However, Sloma’s individual heroics were not enough to earn Ohio a victory. Ohio was outshot by James Madison 15-2 on the day and 14-1 in the second half alone. The frustrations of not being able to find any consistent offensive success showed itself as the game winded down. 

Ohio was called for five yellow cards, one against the entire team, and a red card against senior midfielder Carsyn Prigge in the 84th minute. 

While the offensive struggles Ohio has experienced through its portion of non-conference matchups have been notable, the defensive effort of the team has been a positive that has carried from match to match. Ohio will be able to find offensive success if they are able to keep a tough defensive effort consistent when conference play begins.

Ohio will return to Chessa Field on September 21st for a match against Kent State. That matchup will begin Ohio’s portion of the schedule facing off against Mid-American Conference opposition and will determine if Ohio will find itself returning to the MAC tournament once more.

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