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Ohio University Freshman Maia Kaufman (4) passes the soccer ball at the game against Ball State on Chessa Field on Oct. 16, 2022.

Soccer: Previewing Ohio’s round one matchup with Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament

The Ohio Bobcats (9-7-5, 4-4-3 Mid-American Conference) won their first-ever MAC Tournament on Sunday in a 2-1 victory over Kent State. 

After winning the MAC tournament, Ohio became eligible for the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament. After the selection process, it was announced that Ohio would travel to Michigan State to take on the No. 5 seeded Michigan State (12-4-3, 7-1-2 Big Ten) in a first-round matchup. 

Ohio is the only MAC team in the NCAA Tournament and has won its last five matches en route to winning the first MAC Tournament in school history. The Bobcats are playing their best soccer going into a match against one of the most formidable competitions of their season. 

Here is all you need to know before the matchup. 

Ohio Notes

Ohio is riding a five-game winning streak going into the NCAA Tournament, which has imbued the team with momentum at the most critical point of the season. The team’s offense has found its stride down the stretch of the season, scoring 10 goals over five matches, which is more than any five-game stretch all season. 

The Ohio defense has also continued to perform excellently to close the year, as three of the games during the five-game winning streak were shutouts. In the other two matches, it only allowed one goal in each. 

Both the offense and defense have been excellent at complementing each other as of late and will need to continue that success against the high-flying offense of Michigan State. 

Michigan State Notes

Michigan State finished the season with 12 victories and earned the number one seed in the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament. However, the Spartans fell to Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament by a score of 1-2. 

Aside from that, Michigan State still was selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament based on regular-season success. This season, Michigan State averages 2.37 goals per game and has scored 45 goals in total. The Spartans have posted three shutout games this season with five-plus goals scored and played four matches against top-25 ranked teams, with a record of 1-2-1 in those matchups.

Michigan State is also 2-0 against MAC competition this season, with wins over Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan. Michigan State has won matches with overwhelming offensive production, and limiting that production while finding offensive counter-opportunities will be vital keys to success for Ohio to advance past Michigan State.

Player(s) to watch

Defender Quintin Tostevin and forward Scout Murray– Tostevin is a leader in minutes for Ohio this season behind goalkeeper Celeste Sloma and has been a critical contributor to the success of Ohio’s defense throughout this season.

She will have to focus on slowing down a fast-paced Michigan attack but has continued to be one of the most impactful players on defense, holding opponents to 0.9 goals per game. Tostevin also assisted a goal in the MAC title game– she can benefit the team on both ends. 

Murray, however, has shown off her potential during Ohio’s MAC Championship run, scoring the go-ahead goals in the semifinals against Bowling Green and the Championship game versus Kent State. She has become a vital member of Ohio’s offense that has come alive in recent weeks, and her speed will allow her to apply pressure directly on the Michigan State defense.

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