Updated Mon, Oct 29, 2012 2:36 am
The opening round of the Mid-American Conference tournament was a career game for Ohio goalie Mattie Liston, but her efforts were not enough to save the team’s season, as the Bobcats fell to Miami, 1-0.
Liston had a staggering 15 saves – seven in the first half, but it was the early shot by Miami’s Kayla Zakrzewski that got past the junior goalie.
Zakrzewski’s goal came in the sixth minute off a long throw in that bounced through the center of the defense. The shot rocketed passed a diving Liston into the back of the net to give the RedHawks the lead.
The remaining 84 minutes of the game belonged to Liston. She tied two program records with her 15 saves in one game and 111 saves on the year. Liston also moved to the top of the record books with 294 career saves.
Miami outshot the Bobcats 30-5 and put 16 of them on goal. Liston’s play kept Coach Stacy Strauss’ team in the game, especially late. In two games, she has limited the high scoring RedHawks to two goals.
“I said to her, 'We needed you to have a great game today, and you did.' I thought that she kept us in the game,” Strauss said. “I thought she did a great job to come off her lines, be decisive, make some great saves. Her kicking and distribution today was pretty spot on, so a good performance from her.”
The loss marks an end to an era, but a new beginning.
Strauss loses arguably one of the best senior classes she has ever had. With a young group of players, the pressure for the four seniors to be leaders was extremely high.
“It has been a long, long time since I had a group that from the time they were freshmen on, they've had a real impact on this program, specifically just on the attitude of the team,” said Strauss with tears in her eyes. “They didn't accept excuses for themselves, and they didn't accept excuses from their teammates either.”
That mentality will be carried over into next season, as the Bobcats return a lot of experience to their roster. Their intense play in the second half boosts their confidence heading into the offseason.
“I think that they proved a lot to themselves this year about what we're capable of, and I think we just fell short and couldn't quite get to the cusp,” Strauss said. “It's going to be a bright future for Ohio soccer in the next few years.”