Powered by a Kailyn Dudukovich brace and assist, Ohio State decidedly beat Ohio by a score of 4-1 on Thursday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Senior Shae Robertson sunk a penalty kick to score the only Bobcat goal, her first of the season.
In the 20th minute, Dudukovich, a former USWNT youth call-up, took flight over two Ohio defenders, found a cross, and lobbed a looping header over Celeste Sloma to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead. Emma Sears assisted the goal–her first point of the season.
"She’s a really good player. She was their leading goalscorer last year for them, and she came back (today) for her first game, and I think that was something that pushed the team,” Ohio Head Coach Aaron Rodgers said.
In the first half, the Bobcats couldn't match the speed and precision of the Buckeyes’ midfield players; Peyton McNamara put in a noteworthy performance, as she controlled the pace and direction for most of the game.
Outside backs played an important role in both holding Ohio State off and progressing on offense, considering they were sitting in a 3-5-2 facing a 4-4-2 but they never found a breakthrough.
“They had an overload in there, we didn’t do as great a job as we wanted to in defending the midfield; our transition defensively wasn’t great in the first half,“ Rodgers said. "I think in the second half it was much better. I think the score in the second half was a little misleading because I felt like we were in the game much more in the second half. But, unfortunately, they scored some really good goals.”
The Buckeyes opened the second half with a handful of overly physical play, Ella Deevers drew a yellow card on a Buckeye midfielder after nearly getting her shirt ripped off and Ohio State’s Mirann Gacioch shoulder-checked a Bobcat player–way too late to be an accident–that went unnoticed by the official.
Jaimason Brooker was taken out in the box after a series of fast-footed moves, resulting in Robertson’s penalty, and notching an assist for herself. From there on, the Buckeyes laid off of the physicality, and rightfully so, as they found the back of the net three more times in the second half.
Despite the scoreline, Ohio performed well in the second half.
They spent much more time in the offensive third, with much better quality and higher urgency. Scout Murray’s shifts could not be more different: she wasn’t winning balls or connecting in the first half, but in the second half, she was a catalyst for a Bobcat attack that was competitive. They had chances, they just didn't find the back of the net, something they haven't accomplished in open play once in their last five games.
“We’re really young. We’re creating chances, we’re leading the MAC in shots…with a young team it takes a little bit of adjustment and we’re going to have to figure it out, and I think we’re creating chances, but if we weren’t creating chances, then I would be frustrated. But we are, and you know what, we’ll score them,” Rodgers said.
However, failed attacks weren’t enough to stave off Ohio State.
Dudukovich scored her sixth and seventh goals in the evening–the second being off of an Ohio infraction inside of the box that sent her to the penalty spot. Shortly after retaking the lead, they added to it when Ella Gianolla sent a Sloma parry into the left side-netting.
After it became 3-1, the match slowed down. It was both teams’ penultimate non-conference game, so Rodgers kept Izzi Boyd on the bench and gave some young legs some burn. Ava Bradley scored an insurance goal with less than nine minutes to play, and that was it.
The Bobcats hit the road again on Sunday for a bout with James Madison while The Buckeyes host SEC opponent Auburn.