ATHENS, Ohio—The Ohio women's soccer team opens Mid-American Conference play this weekend when the team hosts Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan at Chessa Field. The Bobcats take on EMU on Friday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. for Heroes Day then play CMU on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. The weekend also plays host to Ohio women's soccer's 20th anniversary. The celebration begins on Friday and lasts through the weekend, concluding with a alumni halftime recognition during the Central Michigan match.
Head coach Aaron Rodgers is looking forward to alumni weekend and the opportunity to play in front of the former Bobcats.
"Very excited to welcome back alums. Bobcat soccer is about the legacy of those that played before us and what we do now to prepare for the future. We hope to honor them by playing with heart and passion," Rodgers said.
Ohio opens MAC play after going 3-5 in non conference play. Ohio's three wins came against Robert Morris, Butler and Cleveland State. The Bobcats are coming off a road loss to Dayton on Friday, Sept. 15. The contest was a defensive test for both teams that saw Ohio record 12 shots (four on goal) to Dayton's 10 shots (four on goal). Erin Beurket (Milford, Ohio) stood in goal for Ohio, playing the whole 90 minutes. Beurket recorded one save on the night.
The Bobcats haven't always gotten the preferred result this season but Rodgers is still confident in his squad.
"We are looking to be as competitive as we can be this MAC conference season. We have played some very good soccer this non-conference season and know that if we stay committed disciplined and have high energy we can be successful.
"We can play some very good soccer against some very good teams. We played a tough non-conference schedule to prepare us for the very competitive MAC. We know that we need to have high energy and disciplined," Rodgers said.
Through preseason Ohio has 111 shots, 53 shots on goal and five goals. In net, Beurket (1-3-0) and Sydney Malham (Nashville, Tenn.) (2-2-0) have 29 saves, a 1.23 GAA, 10 goals allowed and a .744 save percentage with three shutouts.
LAST TIME AGAINST EASTERN MICHIGAN
Ohio last saw Eastern on Oct. 14. 2016 when the Bobcats fell 2-0 to the Eagles. Eastern Michigan forced their way down field and opened scoring in the opening minute of play when Rachel Washburn scored. Play was largely contested until the 36th minute when Stef Barelos scored off a solo shot, solidifying the Eagles victory. The Bobcats put three of their 11 shots on goal. For The Eagles, Kaylin Williams recorded two saves through 90 minutes.
SCOUTING EASTERN MICHIGAN
Eastern Michigan leads the all-time series 8-11-4 and is 3-5-1 through the preseason. The team is coming off losses on Friday and Saturday to Utah State (1-2) and Detroit Mercy (0-3) respectively.
The Eagles have seven goals through 122 shots and have a .41 SOG percentage. Top threat for the Eagles is Sabrina McNeil who's recorded two goals and two assists through seven games and 28 shots.
Williams has been the primary presence in net for Eastern Michigan, recording 790 minutes with 38 saves and 16 goals allowed (1.82 GAA) in 105 shots faced. She's recorded two shutouts and has a .704 save percentage. Backing up Williams is Mabel Dunn who's appeared in two matches, totalling 44 minutes. Dunn has recorded four saves and faced nine shots.
LAST TIME AGAINST CENTRAL MICHIGAN
The Bobcats saw Central Michigan last season in October when the two teams went to double overtime. The Chippewas walked away with the victory, winning 2-1 thanks to a goal in the 104th minute from Alexis Pelafas. Chances throughout the match were far and few between, with the first goal not coming until the 62nd minute when Pelafas nodded in a header into the bottom corner, beating Beurket.
Five shots and 29 minutes later Ohio would tie it up when Hannah Jaggers (Taylorsville, Ky.) rocketed in a shot to tie the game. Pelafas' game winning goal came in the last minute of double overtime off an assist from Samantha Maher. Ohio finished with six shots on goal through 23 shots. Beurket stood in goal for all 104 minutes, facing seven shots and recording five saves. The Chippewas ended with 13 shot with seven on goal. Kristen Knutson played in net for Central Michigan, facing six shots and earning five saves.
SCOUTING CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Central Michigan went 5-2-1 in non conference play and is coming off wins on Sept. 10 and 16 over Detroit Mercy (2-0) and Mount St. Mary's (4-2). Marle Bringard and Pelafas recorded the two goals against Detroit Mercy for the Chippewas with Bringard scoring off a feed from centerfield and Pelafas beating Detroit Mercy's Manzo Marina one-on-one. In Central Michigan's match against Mount St. Mary's, goals came from Savannah Beetcher and Pelafas. Beetcher opened scoring unassisted in the third minute. Pelafas scored two minutes later then recorded the Chippewas' other two goals in the 68th and 76th minutes.
Pelafas is Central Michigan's primary threat this season. She has six goals and one assist through seven games and 42 shots. Behind her is Madison Costner who's recorded four goals and one assist through six games and 17 shots. Zoie Reed is in net for the squad, going 5-2-1 through 750 minutes, recording 41 saves and 10 goals allowed to earn a 1.20 GAA and .804 save percentage with two shutouts.
Allie Curry (Fairfield, Ohio) leads Ohio with two goals and 18 shots through eight games. Bryce Hueber (Cincinnati, Ohio), Jaggers and Alivia Milesky (Plain City, Ohio) each have one goal on the season as well.
The Bobcats travel to Ball State on Friday, Sept. 29 for a 4 p.m. matchup