ATHENS, Ohio – Two goals in the final four minutes helped Ohio defeat Central Michigan 3-1 in a Mid-American Conference women’s soccer match at Chessa Field on Sunday.
On Senior Day for the Bobcats (10-3-2, 5-2-2 MAC), co-captains Rachael Najjar and Abby Leopold both contributed goals while junior Christel Schiering provided the game-winner on her 13th score of the season and 33rd of her career, tying the school’s all-time record for goals scored in a career.
Najjar gave Ohio a 1-0 lead just 3:13 into the contest by scoring from 15 yards out after Gina Siedentopf settled a pass from senior Rachel Sanders and dumped it off to the open left side.
“Gina had the ball in the middle and the two defenders parted and I just ran through,” said Najjar about her ninth goal of the season. “She passed me the ball and I kind of toe-poked it in.”
Although the Bobcats outshot the Chippewas 12-5 in the first half, the score remained 1-0 until early in the second half when Sabrina Borgquist tied the match on a breakaway in the 49th minute. The Central Michigan senior midfielder placed a ball into the left corner of the net past Ohio goalkeeper Michelle Meglaughlin from 20 yards out.
Shortly thereafter, freshman Melissa Parra replaced Meglaughlin in goal for the Bobcats and made two saves before earning her first career win.
The match would not be decided, however, until the last few minutes when Schiering and Leopold provided clutch goals. Schiering’s came at the 86:25 mark when she headed in a cross from Leopold, who had driven the ball down the left side.
“Usually Abby’s crosses go far post so I figured if I ran farther I could get a better shot on it,” said Schiering, who had been held scoreless in the last four games after recording 12 goals in the first 10 contests of the season. “She hit it over everybody and I just knocked it in. I’ve been struggling lately so it feels good. It just happens sometimes and you just have to ride it out.”
With 1:30 remaining on the clock, Leopold again took a ball down the left side and this time fired it in from 20 yards out to complete the scoring.
“In this game, we failed to panic and we just kept our composure,” said Ohio head coach Stacy Strauss. “Today was the best example of our core players really stepping up and getting it done. We’ve been telling Christel the last few games that she’s struggled to just hold on and score one when it really matters and that’s certainly what she did.”
Besides Senior Day, the match also included a free pregame tailgate by the Green and White Club and a halftime dedication ceremony recognizing Ohio University athletics grounds supervisor Scott Blower and his wife Christa, a 1985 Ohio graduate, whose contribution of $70,000 helped renovate the Bobcats’ playing surface and facility during the offseason. The donation marked the university’s largest private gift to women’s athletics and the field is now named after Chessa Blower, the couple’s 8-year-old daughter who was announced as a special 12th player in Ohio’s starting lineup before the game.