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ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio field hockey team is set to begin its 15-match regular season schedule on the East Coast this weekend. The Bobcats visit La Salle on Friday (Aug. 24) at noon EST at Hank DeVincent Field in Philadelphia. The contest will be streamed live on ESPN+ ($). Ohio will then visit Monmouth on Sunday (Aug. 26) in a noon matchup at So Sweet A Cat Field in West Long Branch, N.J.
Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 | Ohio at La Salle | Noon EST | Hank DeVincet Field | Philadelphia, Pa. | Live Stats | ESPN+
Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018 | Ohio at Monmouth | Noon EST | So Sweet A Cat Field | West Long Branch, N.J. | Live Stats
JOHNSTONE ERA BEGINS
The Ohio field hockey program will be beginning a new era this weekend as Ali Johnstone makes her debut as head coach of the Bobcats.
Johnstone, a former Bobcat standout and member of the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame, returns to Athens after spending the last six years on the coaching staff at Northwestern -- including the last four as the associate head coach.
BACK FOR THE BOBCATS
Senior midfielder Kendall Ballard (Charlottesville, Va.) is coming off a junior campaign in which she earned Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division I West All-Region Second Team and All-Mid-American Conference First Team honors after leading the Bobcats in points (21), goals (8), game-winning goals (2), shots (45) and shots on goal (20) and tied for the team lead in assists (5). Senior forward Emma Eggleston (Houston, Texas) is also back after garnering All-MAC Second Team honors as a junior. She tied for the team lead and tied for seventh in the MAC with five assists. Other returners for Ohio in 2018 include junior forward Karynne Baker (Falls Church, Va.), redshirt junior goalkeeper Sophia Boothby (Spotsylvania, Va.), sophomore defender Claire Buckey (Powell, Ohio), junior defender Amy Edgerton (Louisville, Ky.), sophomore midfielder Annmarie Hoppel (Fredericksburg, Va.), junior forward Brittany Keen (Perth, Western Australia), senior goalkeeper Alex Pennington (Easton, Pa.), sophomore midfielder Emma Spinetto (Louisville, Ky.) and sophomore defender Lean Warren (Hamilton, New Zealand).
BALLARD SPENDS SUMMER REPRESENTING OHIO, COUNTRY
In May, Ballard selected to compete for the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team's travel roster for a June trip to Argentina. Ballard was one of 17 current college players selected by U-21 USWNT Head Coach Phil Edwards to represent their country in Tucuman, Argentina from June 10-18 and compete in a three-game test series against the country's U-21 team.
July saw Ballard named to USA Field Hockey's U.S. Women's National Development Squad.
WELCOME TO OHIO
Ohio's 2018 roster features eight new faces to the program -- sophomore midfielder Maeve Gordon (West Milford, N.J.), sophomore midfielder Jillian Shive (Lebanon, Ohio), sophomore defender Alex Worrallo (Kidderminster, England), redshirt freshman midfielder Tayla Hansen (Levin, New Zealand), freshman goalkeeper Nele Graner (Bonn, Germany), freshman midfielder Courtney Klein (Louisville, Ky.), freshman forward Sydney Super (Newark, Ohio) and freshman midfielder Ashley Wilbur (Louisville, Ky.).
MAC PRESEASON POLL
Ohio was picked to finish sixth in the 2018 Mid-American Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced the league office on Wednesday (Aug. 22). The preseason poll was voted on by the league's seven head coaches. The Bobcats garnered 18 points overall. Ohio went 4-12 a year ago -- including 2-4 in MAC play. Miami, which received six of seven first-place votes, was selected to repeat as the conference's regular season champion. The RedHawks also received five of seven votes to win a second-straight MAC tournament title.
NEW CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT FORMAT
By virtue of winning last season's league tournament title, Miami will host to the 2018 MAC Championship (Oct. 31-Nov. 3) in Oxford. All seven teams will qualify for the conference tournament this season, with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds receiving byes to the semifinals. The No. 6 and No. 7 seeds will face off in a play-in game, with the winner taking on the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals. The No. 4 and No 5 seeds will matchup in the other quarterfinal contest. The 2018 MAC Championship Final will take place on Nov. 3, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Championship Field as conference champion. A total of 18 teams will qualify for the 2018 tournament. Ten teams will receive automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments and an additional eight teams will earn at-large bids. The national semifinals (Nov. 16) and championship match (Nov. 18) will be held at Louisville's Trager Stadium.
Ohio is 19-15-1 (.557) in season openers dating back to 1983. The Bobcats have won three-straight season openers and seven of their last 11. Last year, Ohio defeated Saint Louis, 6-1, in the opener in a neutral-site matchup on Aug. 26, 2017, in Muncie, Ind.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
The Bobcats will be facing off against both La Salle and Monmouth for the first time this weekend.
La Salle went 9-8 a season ago -- including 3-5 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. Kelly Broadway begins her first season as head coach of the Explorers, making Friday's contest a matchup of rookie head coaches. La Salle returns its top-two goal scorers in senior forward Mackenize Karcher (10 goals; fourth-most in A-10) and sophomore midfielder/forward Rialee Allen (five goals).
Monmouth is coming off of a 15-4 campaign in 2017 in which it went 5-1 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. The top-seeded Hawks were upset by third-seeded Fairfield, 2-1, in the conference tournament title match. Carli Figlio enters her 12th season at the helm at Monmouth and has guided the Hawks to fourth-straight MAAC regular season crowns. The Hawks picked to win the MAAC once again in the league's preseason poll. Among the returners for Monmouth are senior forward Georgia Garden Bachop and junior forward Josephine van der Hoop, who were tabbed as MAAC Co-Preseason Players of the Year, and senior forward Kelly Hanna, who joined Garden Bachop and van der Hoop on the Preseason All-MAAC Team. van der Hoop, the 2017 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, had a breakout season in 2017, finishing the year with 31 points on the strength of 13 goals and five assists. Garden Bachop posted a career-best 10 goals and four helpers to finish the year with 24 points. Hanna will look to build upon a strong junior campaign in which she compiled 35 points on 14 goals and seven assists. Monmouth opens the season Friday at Saint Joseph's.
The Bobcats will make their home debut under Johnstone next weekend, welcoming Saint Louis (Aug. 31; 3 p.m.) and Liberty (Sept. 2; 1 p.m.) to Athens to begin a stretch of five of six matches played at Pruitt Field.