ATHENS, Ohio — The Ohio women's soccer is set for its final tune-up before the start of the 2017 regular season, when they head to Northern Kentucky to take on NKU in an exhibition match on Friday, Aug. 11. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the NKU Soccer Stadium.
The Bobcats opened fall camp on Wednesday, Aug. 2, welcoming back the team's 18 returners and bringing in seven new faces. Head coach Aaron Rodgers along with second year assistant coach Debs Brereton had a lot to say about the energy and excitement of camp.
"Energy's feeling real good," Brereton said. "The players obviously worked very hard over the summer and looking at their test results that we yielded, they've definitely bought into the process. I think because they're all committed to it, they're all about providing as much energy as possible into sessions and it started on a really high note today."
Brereton also mentioned the team's focus and end goals coming into the season. Coaches across many sports will often state that they look one game at a time and try not to get ahead of themselves but Brereton understands the importance of having clear-set goals and how equally important it is to work toward those marks.
"Personal goals are to win more MAC [Mid-American Conference] games than we did last year and obviously to make it to the tournament. If we can get to the MAC tournament, there's no reason these guys can't go all the way. They're earning it every day, they've earned it every day this summer. It's about coming together and making sure we continue this fall and see how much of a run we can make. We're preparing the team and making sure we peak at conference time. Every game we're going to have certain goals and objectives and it's all going to be in preparation for when MAC games role around, we're going to be completely ready; physically, emotionally and technically ready for it," Brereton said.
Speaking to Rodgers, he spoke about a continuing legacy from last year's seniors and how the team has welcomed in the new faces.
"We have a great returning group, obviously the seniors that graduated last year left a great impact on this team and the returners are building on that...our fitness level is probably one of the best that it's ever been as a group as a whole and everyone's attitude has been great. They've really welcomed in the seven new players into the program and they're going to add a lot to this program and we're excited to get going," Rodgers said.
Rodgers also noted that the players did a fantastic job at staying fit during the offseason, emphasizing that because the group as a whole was able to maintain such a high fitness level while they were away, the team can come back during camp and focus on soccer-specific skills instead of conditioning and achieving a certain fitness level.
Rodgers spoke on goals for the team, stating that every year his focus is on winning as many games as possible and focusing on winning as many non-conference games in the schedule as the team can.
"We have a very challenging non-conference schedule but I think that's going to prepare us for the MAC. I think every year that the MAC is, who knows, it's always up for grabs who's going to end up at the top and I really like our chances. I think our team has a lot of great spirit, I think we return a lot of solid players an added a lot of players in. We want to get in the MAC tournament and once we're in the MAC tournament we want to make a run for the championship," Rodgers said.
The Bobcats finished the season with a 5-12-1 record and a 3-8 MAC record. Ohio recorded 27 goals and earned a 1.54 GAA through their 18 games.
Seven players were named Academic All-MAC; two were named to the OCSA All-Ohio and Academic All-Ohio rosters; and one was a Distinguished Scholar Athlete as selected by the MAC.
LIFETIME AGAINST NKU
The Bobcats and the Norse have never played in a regular season matchup have meet in two previous exhibition matches. Ohio and NKU met in 2009 when Ohio shut the team out 2-0 at Chessa followed by 2016's 2-1 victory at NKU.
SCOUTING THE NORSE
NKU, the reigning Horizon League champions, are coming off a 4-2 exhibition win against Miami on Aug. 8.
In the game, senior Macy Hamblin scored all four goals for the Norse while Ally Perkins recorded three assists.
NKU finished the 2016 campaign with a 13-7-1 record ND 6-2-1 mark in the Horizon League. The Norse went on to win the Horizon League Tournament crown and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
In goal, Erin Beurket played in 12 games for Ohio, starting 11. She recorded a 1.58 GAA with 63 saves and 19 goals allowed, going 3-8-1 with two shutouts.
Erin Beurket (Milford, Ohio ) returns in goal for the Bobcats, standing behind the backline of Rianna Reese (Liberty Township), Celeste Fushimi-Karns (Dublin, Ohio), Sydney Leckie (Medina, Ohio) and Mandy Arnzen (Edgewood, Ky.).
Ohio adds seven this year including: Paige Knorr (Cincinnati, Ohio), Jenni Santacaterina (Geneva, Ill.), Kylie McCue (Weston, Fla), Sara Kattainen (Tampere, Finland ), Paige Pappanastos (Orland Park, Ill.), Sarina Dirrig (Powell, Ohio) and Sydney Malham (Nashville, Tenn.)
BOBCATS ADD A TRANSFER
Ohio adds transfer Victoria Breeden (Hudson, Ohio). Breeden was a multi-sport athlete at Hudson High School, where she lettered in soccer, track and cross-country. In her three years playing as a defender, Breeden was a two-time All-Northeast Ohio Conference first-teamer and led her team to the district finals each year. Breeden played for a local club team, the Ambassadors, out of Ohio. Breeden is a transfer from Tennessee Tech and will be coming into the program as a sophomore. In her college career, Breeden has played in 13 games, starting in five of those, and tallied two shots, one of those being on goal, and one assist.
The Bobcats play their home opener Friday, Aug. 18 against Robert Morris. The game is set to begin at 4 p.m. at Chessa Field.