MAC Tournament Hopes Depend on Senior Weekend Success

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The moment has finally come. After four years of hard work and determination put forth on Chessa Field, the final hurrah for the four Ohio senior soccer players has arrived.

This weekend marks the final time that seniors Cat Rogers, Ronnie Rock, Paige Howard and Erin Schwenke step onto Chessa Field as players, and it’s a big one. With such a young team, the Bobcats have experienced an up-and-down season with the foursome keeping the team together as a singular unit.

“I think all four of the seniors are amazing leaders, all in different ways,” freshman Grace Campbell said. “Ronnie and Paige are very strong vocal leaders, and Schwenke and Cat lead through their actions.”

Ohio began this season 1-3, but quickly turned it around winning six straight games. During that streak, they won four home games and initiated the phrase, “Protect Chessa.”

The Bobcats have not had the same luck in the Mid-American Conference, though. Coupled with unlucky breaks and close defeats, Ohio is 2-4-1 and currently tied for eighth in the conference.

With only eight teams making the MAC Championship playoffs, this weekend’s games verses Toledo and Northern Illinois are crucial to the team’s playoff hopes.

The playoff scoring system is simple. Three points are rewarded to teams for each win, one point for a tie, and zero for losses. The Bobcats are currently tied for eighth with seven points.

A win in all three remaining games would ensure the Bobcats a spot in the playoffs. Toledo and Northern Illinois are both above the Bobcats in the standings. The Rockets are sixth in the MAC with 13 points, and the Huskies are seventh with eight, respectively.

Toledo and Northern Illinois also play Kent State this weekend, who sits third in the MAC with a 5-1-2 record and 16 points. If Kent State and Ohio are able to win both games, the Bobcats will be tied for sixth heading into the final weekend of MAC play. If either suffers a defeat, the playoff iterations are too many to decipher.

The importance of this weekend cannot be underestimated. Coach Stacy Strauss’ team knows that every second on the field affects their chances of making the playoffs. However, there’s more on the team’s mind.

The Bobcats want to win for the seniors.

They have devoted a lot to a program that is progressing, and hard work will eventually be rewarded. From Rogers’ composure in the midfield to Howard’s hardnosed defense, every senior will be missed in Strauss’ lineup.

Off the field, teammates remember certain qualities of every senior. From one’s fast-paced talking to another’s humorous laugh, there’s something that separates every senior from the other.

“All are very hard-working and set a high standard for what they expect out of the team,” Campbell said. “They will be greatly missed on the field.”

So the last hurrah is upon them, which is why the urgency to win is at its highest. The foursome has one last chance to play for the MAC Championship, which Toledo has eliminated them from the past three years. Ironically, the Rockets stand in their way once again.

For the young players, they can only contribute to the team what their leaders have taught them. They hope the lessons learned will progressively translate into one last Bobcat run for the championship trophy. It’s the least they can do for their talented seniors who have given them so much.