MAC Preview: Ohio Starts Conference Play Friday

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The Ohio soccer team begins Mid-American Conference play on Friday with a 4 p.m. game against the University of Akron. As the Bobcats delve into conference play, here’s a look at how the MAC opponents have performed this season, with teams are listed in order that they will face Ohio.

Akron: The Zips currently sit one spot above Ohio in the MAC East Division with a 4-3-1 record. Ohio coach Aaron Rodgers warned of Akron’s prolific no. 3. “[Lani Smith] is a very talented player, probably one of the most talented kids in the conference,” Rodgers said. “So if we contain her I think that we’ll have a great chance to score goals and a great chance to win the game.”

Buffalo: The Bulls are under new leadership this season and have started off brightly, securing a 4-2-1 record and looking competent against superior teams. “They’re a solid team,” Rodgers said. “[They’ve] come up with a great start, and I know they are going to be playing with a lot of confidence.” Ohio will close the weekend by playing Buffalo at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Western Michigan: One of the toughest early conference tests for the Bobcats will come in the form of the Broncos, who have started the season at 6-2. Western Michigan was chosen to win the MAC West in the MAC preseason poll and will put up a formidable fight against Ohio’s defense.

Northern Illinois: After facing the toughest team in the MAC West, the Bobcats will take on one of the division’s weakest opponents in Northern Illinois. The Huskies are 2-6 so far. They have looked shaky defensively and are currently on a two-game losing streak.

Ball State: After two games away from home, Ohio will return to Chessa Field to take on Ball State. Despite being two wins behind Western Michigan, the Cardinals, who sit second in the MAC West, will be a solid test for the Bobcats.

Miami (Ohio): Ohio will then switch its focus to MAC East competition, and it will be a rough return to the Bobcats’ home division as they take on rival Miami at Chessa Field. The RedHawks are 6-1 and currently sit atop the MAC East. The game will be nationally televised by NSCAATV and whoever gets the result will take home bragging rights for the next year. The Bobcats tied Miami, 1-1, in Oxford last year.

Bowling Green: The Bobcats switch their focus to the Falcons, who sit dead last not only in the MAC East but in the entire conference with a 1-6 record. Their sole win came in spectacular fashion—an 8-0 thrashing of Chicago State—but they have been beaten by a cumulative 16-to-10.

Eastern Michigan: After starting the season with a 4-2-1 record, the Eagles look to continue their winning lineage in the MAC West after going 12-7-2 last season. Eastern Michigan has faced some tough teams this year, including a thrilling 2-1 overtime loss to No. 16 Texas Tech. Look for the Eagles to do big things once again this season.

Central Michigan: Winding down the conference season can sometimes be a tough endeavor, but Ohio has been given the gift of playing the two lower teams of the MAC West, the first of which being Central Michigan, near the end of the season. The Chippewas are 2-5-1 currently, recently recording their second win in their last game, a 2-0 win over Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. Central Michigan has also conceded three or more goals in four games this season.

Toledo: The Rockets struggled last year, losing three of their last four games and eventually going 6-12-1 overall and but those struggles don’t look to have continued into 2014. Toledo enters MAC play at 3-4-1, which, despite being a decent record, leaves them fourth in the MAC West. The Rockets also have two players, Isabella Echeverri and Angelica Hernandez, who represented the U-20 Columbian national team at the U-20 World Cup this summer.

Kent State: Finally, wrapping up Ohio’s conference play will be division-rival Kent State. The Golden Flashes are enjoying their season with a 5-2-1 record. The offense seems to be Kent’s driving force, as the team has only failed to score once this season and has accrued 12 goals so far this season.