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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 advances in MAC tournament with win in first round against Ball State

Ohio (7-7-5, 4-4-3 Mid-American Conference) traveled to Muncie, Indiana, to take on Ball State (8-8-3, 6-2-3MAC) in the opening round of the MAC Women’s Soccer Tournament on Sunday afternoon.

As an underdog, Ohio was able to come out on top by a final score of 2-0.  

At the beginning of the match, Ohio’s offense set the pace of play early on and applied pressure on the Ball State defense. Ohio managed three shots on goal within the first 13 minutes while limiting Ball State to zero shots or corner kicks. 

Late in the 13th minute, Ohio defender Ella Deevers found forward Shae Robertson in the Ball State box, where she put the pass into the back of the net to earn Ohio a 1-0 advantage early on.

After Ohio took an early lead, both defenses began to tighten up. Ball State began to apply more pressure and, in the 31st minute, almost tied up the match when Ball State midfielder Kaitlyn Fraser fired a shot toward the Ohio net. However, Celeste Sloma batted the ball away with her only save of the day to keep Ohio ahead.

The first half ended with Ohio leading 1-0 after 45 minutes. Ohio managed to get out to an early lead and succeeded on defense, slowing down Ball State’s offense and outshooting the opponent eight to four.

When the second half began, the Ball State offense came out to a hot start, managing three shots and two corner kicks in the first 14 minutes of action, but could not break through a sturdy Ohio defense on any opportunity. 

The Ohio defense turned away multiple Ball State opportunities early in the half. The defense blocked four shots in the match and kept Ball State from finding a tying goal by limiting opportunities.

After slowing down a hot start, Ohio’s offense regained control of the pace of play and put pressure back on the Ball State defense. In the 78th minute, Ohio midfielder Haley Miller found fellow midfielder Izzi Boyd in Ball State territory, where she fired a shot into the back of the net to put Ohio up 2-0 late.

Boyd gave Ohio a significant advantage late while securing her third goal in the last two Ohio matches. Ohio’s defense remained alert in the closing minutes to not let Ball State back into the match.

When time expired, Ohio had defeated Ball State 2-0 and secured the upset victory on the road to reach the MAC tournament semifinals.

Ohio outshot Ball State 8-2 while only allowing one shot-on-goal throughout the match. Izzi Boyd and Shae Robertson scored, while Ella Deevers and Haley Miller assisted. The four blocked shots proved vital for the Ohio defense and kept the game out of reach for Ball State throughout the match.

Ohio advances to the semifinals of the MAC tournament, where they will face number #2-seed Bowling Green. Ohio faced Bowling Green during the regular season and fell 2-0 at home. However, Ohio gained momentum towards the end of the season and is seeking its first MAC Tournament Championship appearance since 2002.

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