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2016 Ohio Field Hockey Schedule
ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio field hockey team released its 2016 schedule on Thursday (Aug. 4), as announced by 12th-year head coach Neil Macmillan.
The Bobcats' slate features seven home contests at Pruitt Field, four matchups against Big Ten Conference opponents and six Mid-American Conference matches.
"It's a very balanced schedule," said Macmillan, who is the longest-tenured head coach in MAC field hockey and is two vicories away from becoming the all-time winningest coach in Ohio field hockey history. "We have good tests in the likes of Wake Forest, Ohio State, Indiana, Rutgers and Michigan State from the big conferences, but we also have good competition from some of the teams we've played the last couple of years, such as Saint Francis. We have a couple of unknowns as well. Villanova is always very strong. They're in a big hockey area, and they open a new field, so that will be exciting. Towson is a team we know very little about, but the schedule allowed us to get a game at their place, so we're excited to add a new team to the schedule this year."
After visiting Louisville on Aug. 18 for an exhibition match, Ohio embarks on the 2016 regular season by playing host to three-straight matches. The Bobcats will battle Saint Francis on Aug. 26, Indiana on Aug. 28 and UC Davis on Sept. 2 at Pruitt Field to officially open the new year. Ohio topped the Red Flash, 2-0, in its 2015 season opener on Aug. 28, 2015, in Loretto, Pa.
Ohio then begins a stretch of five-straight matches away from Athens. The Bobcats begin the road swing on Sept. 4 by visiting in-state rival Ohio State for the second year in a row. Ohio will then travel to Piscataway, N.J. to take on both Rutgers on Sept. 8 and Cornell on Sept. 9 before closing the road trip out with matches at Towson on Sept. 11 and Villanova on Sept. 18.
Another three-game homestand will follow the Bobcats' lengthy road trip. Ohio will battle Ball State on Sept. 25 in a non-conference match, then open MAC play with matchups against Central Michigan on Sept. 30 and Missouri State on Oct. 7. The Bobcats have taken each of the last three meetings from Central Michigan -- including logging a 3-1 win over Chippewas on Oct. 2, 2015 in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
The Bobcats begin a three-match road trip with a visit to Winston-Salem, N.C., to take on Wake Forest on Oct. 9. The Demon Deacons qualified for the 2015 NCAA Championship, falling to Michigan in first-round action, 2-1. Ohio closes the stretch of road contests with a pair of MAC matches at Ball State on Oct. 13 and Longwood on Oct. 16. The 'Cats recorded a 4-2 non-conference win at Ball State on Sept. 26, 2015, then beat the Cardinals, 4-1, on Oct. 16 at Pruitt Field to sweep the season series. Ohio will be making its first conference trek to Farmville, Va., to battle the Lancers since Longwood joined the MAC in 2014. The Bobcats have posted a pair of wins over Longwood in each of the last two seasons at Pruitt Field, topping the Lancers in a shootout, 1-0, on Sept. 14, 2014, then tallying a 5-1 triumph on Oct. 18, 2015.
Ohio hosts conference rival Kent State on Oct. 21 before taking to the road again for its final two matches of the regular season with contests at Michigan State on Oct. 23 and archrival Miami on Oct. 29.
As last year's regular season champion, Kent State will host the 2016 MAC Championship (Nov. 4-5). The winner of the conference tournament advances to the 2016 NCAA Championship (Nov. 9-20), which culminates in the Final Four being held in Norfolk, Va. Syracuse enters 2016 as the defending national champions.
"I think the conference will be very similar to last year in that all the teams are fairly close together," said Macmillan. "I would expect to see some changes at Missouri State and Ball State because they both have new head coaches. Missouri State did exceptionally well last year, but I don't know how that will translate from one year to the next with a change of coaching staff. I still expect the likes of Kent State and Miami to be very strong. We know those teams, and we know they have good players and will continue to be a challenge. I think, also, Longwood is going to be better and challenging with another year in our conference, as will Central Michigan with a second year under a new head coach."
The Bobcats finished 2015 with eight victories -- including three conference triumphs. Ohio qualified for the MAC Championship as the No. 4 seed, marking the 26th-straight season the Green & White qualified for the league tournament.