Ohio Motivated for Playoff Push

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The Ohio soccer team believes in the power of quotes.

Before every practice and game, Coach Stacy Strauss gives her team a “Positive Mental Attitude Quote”, or PMAQ.

These quotes vary in meaning, but they are all meant to put the players in a correct mindset.

“I just think it's important to have a constant reminder that positive thinking makes a difference,” Strauss said. “They're still somewhat young and impressionable, and I think it's good for them to hear some words of wisdom from assorted famous people. I feel like it sets the tone for practice when they come out to have something positive.”

Strauss finds these inspirational quotes from various famous people and relates them to her team’s current situation.

Entering Eastern Michigan, Ohio had lost a tough game to Buffalo and was desperate for a boost. Strauss sequentially used a Carl Bard quote, “Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

Strauss began this practice in her first couple years coaching the program. She veered away from it, but chose to start the tradition again this preseason. It has received a good response from her team, so she continues to do it.

“I think they like it. If I forget, they always remind me,” Strauss said. “Obviously, they'll respond better to different quotes than others. I think it's been well received.”

As Ohio enters its final game against Kent State, Strauss has already picked out a motivational quote, but it isn’t exactly necessary. The Bobcats are in control of their own playoff destiny. That’s enough motivation for Strauss’ team.

A win, they’re in. It’s a simple concept for the Bobcats, but the game will not be as simple. The Golden Flashes offer a tough matchup, as they are currently fourth in the Mid-American Conference with a 6-3-1 conference record.

Kent State is second in the MAC in goals scored and allowed with 32 and 16, respectively, while the Bobcats are ninth in goals scored and sixth in goals allowed.

Kent State also has a home field advantage, as the Bobcats must adjust to a compact field. Strauss’ formation shouldn’t be affected because of Ohio’s strong inside attack, but the outside defensive backs will have to make tighter runs.

“We're challenging our team to play quickly and move the ball around and make (Kent State) chase,” Strauss said. “Even on a small field, I think if we execute that, we're going to be successful.”

Ohio’s defense will be put to the test once again. It will be going up against the top scorer in the MAC this season, Jaclyn Dutton. The sophomore has scored 13 goals this season along with five assists for the Golden Flashes.

“Defensively and from Mattie in goal, we're looking for more of the same,” Strauss said. “We've limited a lot of good offenses to few goals and few chances, so we're looking to do that again.”

The Bobcats only gave up one goal to the best scoring team in the MAC, Miami, earlier this season.

There are a multitude of playoff scenarios for the Bobcats, depending on the results of other teams.

If the ‘Cats win, they will automatically be in the playoffs and their seeding will be based on Northern Illinois’ result: a Huskies win means the Bobcats will be an eight seed and play Miami in the first round, while a Northern Illinois loss means Ohio will be a seven seed and most likely play Central Michigan.

But if Ohio ties or loses, it will have to wait for the results of the Northern Illinois and Buffalo games to see if it makes the playoffs. The Bobcats will not make the playoffs if they lose or tie and both the Huskies and Bulls win.

In the end, it is the control of its own destiny that inspires the team.

“I think knowing it's a must win gives us a desire to put balls away and put them away quick,” senior Ronnie Rock said. “I don't think it scares us at all. I think it motivates us a little more.”

Rock’s mental attitude is the exact purpose of Strauss’ PMAQ’s. The Bobcats are running with their motivation and are striving for a positive result.