ATHENS, Ohio — Ohio women's soccer edges two games closer to Mid-American Conference play this weekend when the team takes on and Kentucky. The Bobcats travel to Marshall on Friday, Sept. 8 to take on the Thundering Herd at 7 p.m. The team then returns to Chessa Field on Sunday, Sept. 10 for a 2 p.m. matchup against Big-Ten opponent Kentucky. Fans in attendance for #SoccerSunday will walk away with a free pair of sunglass.
Marshall has become one the Bobcats main rivals at the start of past few seasons with the two having tied in 2016 and Marshall taking the victory the year before. Ohio does lead the series 10-2-2 but hasn't walked away with a victory over the Herd since 2012.
Head coach Aaron Rodgers respects the matchup and is looking forward to Friday's contest.
"I think Marshall's always a competitive game. It's a good local rivalry for us, very close in proximity, very spirited game. It was an overtime tie last year, the year before that was a close 3-2 game down there so I fully expect a pretty competitive game. We know them pretty well, they know us pretty well and so it's going to be a great competition for us and another great game to help us get ready for the MAC," Rodgers said.
Sunday's matchup against Kentucky is Rodgers' seventh time playing a power-five school in his time at Ohio and the third time specifically playing the Wildcats in the last four years. The Bobcats have never come out on top over the Wildcats but Rodgers and his players plan to approach the match the same way they do any other opponent, expecting to win.
"Power five school or not-power five school, we're going into every game thinking we can win it, knowing that if we do our best we can be highly competitive," Rodgers said. "We've been successful here at home this year, we're excited that they're coming in here and we're going to play and do our best and have a great opportunity to show you what we can do."
Wins over both Marshall and Kentucky would set Ohio up for a final tune up match against Dayton before conference play gets underway.
LAST TIME AGAINST MARSHALL
Ohio saw Marshall last season when the Thundering Herd came to Chessa field. It was a hard fought match between both sides that even included Marshall playing a man down after the 83rd minute but despite the effort, ended in a 2-2 draw. Courtney Daugerdas (Libertyville, Ill.) recorded both goals for Ohio in the 27th and 78th minutes off assists from Sydney Leckie (Medina, Ohio). Sydney Arnold and Shontelle Smith scored for Marshall in the 3rd and 50th minutes respectively. Ohio recorded 13 shots with 11 SOG to Marshall's 18 shots and 11 SOG. Erin Beurket (Milford, Ohio) stood in goal for the Bobcats, earning nine saves on through all 110 minutes.
Marshall is coming off its first win of the season after defeating Gardner-Webb 1-0 on Sunday, Sept. 3 at home. The Thundering Herd are 1-4 in 2017 with three goals on 64 attempts and a .438 SOG percentage. Goal scorers for the season are Molly Preston, Mary Lawman and Ashley Seltzer. Top goalkeeper for the Herd is Megan Bonelli who has a 1-4 record, 2.10 GAA and .766 save percentage.
LAST TIME AGAINST KENTUCKY
Ohio last saw Kentucky in 2015 where the Wildcats topped the Bobcats 3-0 in Lexington, K.y. Kentucky locked down the field, only allowing Ohio six shots with four going on frame. The Wildcats recorded 21 shots and 10 SOG with goals coming from Zoe Swift, Kelly Novak and Cara Ledman. Vanessa Cordoba and Beurket split time in goal for Ohio with Cordoba recording one save and one goal allowed on two shots and 26 minutes. Beurket closed out the game, recording three saves and two goals allowed on five shots and 63 minutes.
Kentucky is 2-4 on the season and coming off losses from Louisville (1-3) on Friday, Sept 1 and Florida State (0-4) Sunday, Sept. 3 and have yet to win a contest away from home. Through seven games, Kentucky has earned 1.17 goals per game (.382 SOG percentage) while giving up a 2.00 GAA. Offensively, Tanya Samarzich is the leading goal scorer, recording three goals and one assist through 14 shots (5 SOG). Top goalkeeper for the Wildcats is Evangeline Soucie who has a 2-3 record through 507 minutes. Soucie has a 1.60 GAA and .757 save percentage through 74 faced-shots.
In net, Erin Beurket and Sydney Malham continue to split time. Beurket has allowed three goals and made 12 saves in 329 minutes of action. Malham has yet to allow a goal and has made five saves in 135 minutes of work.
IN THE MAC
Ohio (3-2) leads the MAC East so far in the season. Bowling Green (2-2) and Kent State (2-3) are closely behind while Northern Illinois (3-1-1), Western Michigan (3-2) and Central Michigan (3-2-1) lead the MAC West.
The Bobcats currently rank first in shots per game (16.75) and first in goals against average (0.25). Ohio is third in assists per game (1.25) and fourth in points per game (3.25).
Ohio wraps up nonconference play on Friday, Sept. 15 when the team travels to Dayton for a 7 p.m. match