Athens, Ohio – Led by two goals from Alivia Milesky and three assists from Maria Collica, the Ohio soccer team (7-6-3, 5-2-2 MAC) bounced back, downing Mid-American Conference foe Northern Illinois (2-15-0, 1-8-0), 4-0, Thursday afternoon (Oct. 18) inside Chessa Field.
"Getting on the board early is what we've focused on these last few weeks," head coach Aaron Rodgers said. "Scoring first and imposing our game plan on the other team. For us to do that today was very important. We also wanted to score in both halves. Maybe we haven't scored in the first, but we have in the second, or vice versa. It was important for use to not only score first, but also score in both halves."
The Bobcats raced off to a fast start, recording the first three attempts of the game, a shot by Milesky (Plain City, Ohio) that was saved, a shot by Collica (Solon, Ohio) and a shot on goal by Jenni Santacaterina (Geneva, Ill.).
The Bobcats' pressure would pay off, when in the seventh minute, Madelyn Kah (Hamilton, Ohio) would recorded her third goal of the season when Collica fed the ball to her and she touched it right past the diving keeper into the lower right corner, giving Ohio a 1-0 lead. Sydney Leckie (Medina, Ohio), picked up the secondary assist on the score.
Ohio would keep pressuring, with Leckie recording the next three shots for the Bobcats, one which was blocked, one saved and the other just wide of the net.
In the 19th minute, Abby Townsend (Powell, Ohio) would record her first shot of the game, a ball that would be saved. Then in the 24th minute, Milesky would record another shot, but it would go just high of the net.
NIU registered their first shot on goal in the 31st minute, forcing starting keeper Erin Beurket (Milford, Ohio) to make the save.
Bryce Hueber (Cincinatti, Ohio) took two shots, in the 34th and 35th minutes, sandwiching an attempt by midfielder Sarina Dirrig (Powell, Ohio) that ricocheted off of the goal post, keeping the game at 1-0.
Just before the half, Rianna Reese (Liberty Township, Ohio) would register her own attempt in the 41st minute, however, the ball would go just wide of the net and the game would go into the half with the Bobcats leading 1-0.
At the half, Ohio outshot NIU, 14-1, with the Bobcats recording eight on goal, compared to NIU's one.
Just 26 seconds into the second half, Milesky would strike. After Townsend collected a turnover at midfield, she would take it up field and dish it to Milesky as she crashed the net, just pushing it past the diving keeper, giving Ohio a 2-0 lead.
After Collica recorded another shot on goal in the 46th minute, the Bobcats would strike against in the 49th minute. Once again, it was Milesky who collected the ball from Collica at midfield and would fire it to the upper left corner, just out of reach of the NIU keeper, giving Ohio a 3-0 lead. It was Milesky's sixth goal of the season.
"Her first two years, Alivia wasn't a forward. She was a midfielder," Rodgers said. "Last spring we knew that we wanted to put her up at forward, so we trained her at forward. She's done an exceptional job."
The Bobcats' offense kept the pressure on, with Ohio recording the next four attempts, one by Kah and three more from Milesky.
In the 69th minute, Townsend would record a shot that would be saved. The ball would then be collected by Leckie would with attempt to touch it past the keeper, however, she would make the save, keeping the game at 3-0.
Northern Illinois would record the next three attempts , all of which would be saved by Beurket, keeping the shutout.
Then in the 75th minute, Collica would take a corner kick, sending the ball to the net, which would set up Dirrig to perfectly fire the ball to the back of the net, giving Ohio the 4-0 lead.
Dirrig would record another attempt in the 76th minute before NIU would register the next four shots, two of which would be secured by Beurket.
In the 83rd minute, Maeve Maloney (Lebanon, Ohio) would record a shot of her own, but it would go wide of the net. Dirrig would then follow that up with another attempt, but it would also go wide.
As the game came to a close, NIU would attempt to get on the board two more times, however Beurket would be there to helped secure the shutout and the 4-0 victory.
Overall, the Bobcats outshot NIU, 31-10, with Ohio registering 18 shots on goal, compared to NIU's eight.
Milesky led the way, with two goals, seven shots and three shots on goal. Leckie recorded five shots, three on goal and one assist, while Dirrig registered one goal on five attempts. Collica would contribute as well, registering three assists on three shots, with two on goal. Kah added one goal on two shots.
Up next, the Bobcats stay in Athens to play host to MAC opponent Western Michigan on Sunday, Oct. 21. First touch is set for 1 p.m. at Chessa Field.