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Ohio University first-year, Jaimason Brooker (7), dribbles around a Kent State defender at Chessa Field in Athens, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2023.

Soccer: Ohio defeats Bowling Green 2-1 in stunning MAC semifinal upset

Ohio (8-7-5, 4-4-3 Mid-American Conference) traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to compete in the semifinal match of the MAC tournament against Bowling Green (10-6-2, 8-1-2 MAC). 

Earlier in the season, Bowling Green defeated Ohio 2-0 in Athens and earned the #2 seed in the MAC tournament, plus a first-round bye. Ohio earned a spot in the semifinals by defeating #3-seed Ball State in a 2-0 upset victory.

At the beginning of the match, the Ohio defense was tested early by a hot Bowling Green start. Bowling Green managed four shots and a corner kick in the first 12 minutes of action, but none of those opportunities made it past Ohio goalkeeper Celeste Sloma. 

Sloma recorded two saves, and the Ohio defense held firm to keep the score 0-0 early on. The Ohio offense picked up the pace and began to put pressure on Bowling Green.

The Bobcats managed a corner-kick opportunity in the 14th minute but were not able to break through. Bowling Green controlled the pace of play for much of the first half.

In the 36th minute, Bowling Green defender Christine Erdman put a shot past Sloma to give the team a 1-0 lead approaching halftime. After going down, the Ohio offense quickly attempted to respond with a shot from midfielder Quintin Tostevin, but the shot sailed over the goalpost and Ohio entered the halftime break down 0-1.

The first half witnessed a quick offensive attack from Bowling Green which put the Ohio defense on its heels early. Ohio’s offense only managed three shots in the first half, which kept pressure on the defense and led to allowing a goal in the minutes before halftime. 

Although the offense did not find many open opportunities, the defense turned away many Bowling Green opportunities that would have put Ohio at an even greater deficit. Ohio defenders Quintin Tostevin, Maia Soulis and midfielder Carsyn Prigge all recorded 90 minutes each, providing defensive production for the Bobcats and keeping the match close.

When the second half began, Ohio quickly found the equalizing score only 50 seconds into the half. Defender Rayann Pruss was found on a nice string of passes delivered by fellow defender Ella Deevers for the goal to tie the match for Ohio at 1-1.

The Ohio offense played with more urgency and challenged the pace set by Bowling Green in the first 45 minutes. In the 55th minute, Ohio forward Scout Murray made a remarkable effort to put a deflected ball into the top right corner of the Bowling Green net past the outstretched arms of Bowling Green goalkeeper, Madison Vukas, to give Ohio a 2-1 advantage.

After going up 2-1, Ohio had to face a quick response from Bowling Green’s offense, but two corner kick opportunities could not break through the tough play from Ohio’s defense.

Ohio was able to keep some pressure on the Bowling Green defense late in the second half but could not find a score to put the game away. Bowling Green’s offense managed a few last-minute shot attempts but could not find any shots on goal down the stretch to the final whistle.

When the time had expired, Ohio had defeated Bowling Green 2-1 in the MAC tournament semifinals. Ohio picked up its first win against Bowling Green since the 2015 season and reached the MAC tournament finals for the first time since 2002 after making the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

Ohio defender Rayann Pruss led the way for Ohio’s offense, managing four shots, three shots-on-goal and a goal in the match, and forward Scout Murray also picked up a goal. 

Ohio is back in the MAC tournament finals for the first time in over two decades, as a #6 seed no less, and will take on #4-seeded Kent State for the title of MAC champion. Ohio suffered a 1-0 loss to Kent State earlier this season at home but hopes to change that outcome and claim the MAC title for the first time in program history.

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