ATHENS, Ohio – Thanks to a late goal by Sydney Leckie, the fourth-seeded Ohio women's soccer team (9-7-3) advanced to the Mid-American Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2004, defeating No. 5 Kent State (10-8-2), 2-1, Sunday (Oct. 28) afternoon at Chessa Field.
Ohio's victory over the Golden Flashes is the first victory over Kent State since 2009.
"Today was a gritty tough performance from our team," head coach Aaron Rodgers said. "We knew going into the tournament against a tough Kent State team, we were going to have to be our best physically and with our execution. Every player on the squad contributed to this win. I am proud of the senior class and their leadership and what they have meant to this program. We will be ready to compete in the semifinals on Friday."
Hosting a quarterfinal game for the first time since 2009, the Bobcats opened the game off with the first attempt of the afternoon, when in the third minute, Alivia Milesky (Plain City, Ohio) get her head on the ball, however, it would go just hit of the net.
Kent State would get the next three attempts, one that would be saved by starting keeper Sydney Malham (Nashville, Tenn.), one that would hit the post in the 12thminute, and another that would be saved by defender Olivia Sensky (Powell, Ohio), keeping the game 0-0.
The Ohio offensive pressure would pick up, with the Bobcats recording the next five attempts of the game. In the 16thminute, Mandy Arnzen (Edgewood, Ky.) would register a shot that would force a save by the Kent State keeper. Abby Townsend (Powell, Ohio) would record an attempt and Milesky and Madelyn Kah (Hamilton, Ohio) would both record headers that would force saves, keeping the game at 0-0.
After Rianna Reese (Liberty Township, Ohio) recorded an attempt in the 33rdminute, Kent State would fire a shot that would go wide of the net.
Then in the 42ndminute, after a foul on Kent State that would result in a free kick, the Bobcats would strike. Off the free kick, Sensky would fire the ball to the net and Arnzen would touch it just pas the Kent State keeper, giving Ohio the 1-0 lead. The goal was Arnzen's first of the season.
Kent State would record the final two attempts in the final minutes of the half, with one going just off the crossbar, however the Bobcats would enter halftime with the 1-0 lead.
In the first half, the Bobcats outshot Kent State, 8-6.
Kent State would open the second half flying, with the Flashes recording the first attempt of the half, on a ball that would force Malham to make a save in the 47thminute.
Kah would get an attempt in the 48th minute, however, the ball would go just high of the net.
Then in the 54th minute, the Kent State pressure would pay off, when Vital Kats would score straight off the free kick, tying the game at 1-1.
That wouldn't stop the Bobcats as they would keep putting the pressure on Kent State, with Reese getting another attempt moments later, on a ball that would force a Kent State save.
After a shot by Townsend that would be blocked, Kent State would go back on offense, recording the next four attempts, however the Bobcat defense would hold strong, keeping the game tied at 1-1.
Then in the 68th minute, Ohio's grittiness would pay off. After a shot by Townsend would be saved by the Kent State keeper, the rebound would bounce right out to a sliding Leckie (Medina, Ohio), who would push the ball right past the diving keeper for her fourth goal of the season, putting Ohio up, 2-1.
After the Bobcats' second goal, Kent State would never be able to get the offense going again, with Ohio recording the final three attempts and the defense holding strong, securing the 2-1 victory.
Overall, Ohio outshot Kent State, 16-14, with the Bobcats recording nine on goal to the Flashes' seven. Individually, Arnzen registered a goal on two shots, while Leckie also recorded a goal on two attempts. Reese, Milesky and Townsend all registered three attempts, with Kah added two and Maria Collica (Solon, Ohio) added one. Sensky and Townsend both added assists for the Bobcats.
In net, Malham allowed one goal and made five saves in 90 minutes in net.
Up next, the Bobcats will continue play in the 2018 MAC Tournament, when they play in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 2. Opponent and time will be announced following the conclusion of today's games.