Ohio Drops Home Match Against Miami, 2-0

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Coming into the Battle of the Bricks game against Miami on Sunday, Ohio coach Aaron Rodgers said that the Bobcats had perhaps played their most complete game of the season against Ball State a couple of days earlier.

Ohio could not take that momentum against the RedHawks, losing 2-0 in a mostly one-sided battle at Chessa Field to further blur its results in the Mid-American Conference.

“I’m disappointed with our effort,” Rodgers said. “[But] we’ll learn from it, absolutely, we have to.”

It took less than three minutes for Miami (9-2-1, 4-1-1) to open the scoring, as sophomore Mollie Whitacre fouled a RedHawk attacker to give Miami a free kick just outside the left-hand corner of Ohio’s box.

Miami senior Kelsey Dinges floated a cross into the middle of the 18-yard box and freshman Maggie Scott headed it back across goal and into the corner of the net for the first score of the game.

Bobcats (6-8, 3-3) just lost their captain and usual starting central defender Gabby Hausfeld to a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Friday, and there appeared to be a bit of disorganization in the box without her.

The back line seemed a bit flustered early on but freshman Megan Niebuhr has settled in well to the position considering the circumstances. Niebuhr replaced Hausfeld for the majority of Ohio’s 1-0 win over Ball State, but this game was her first start of the season and, aside from the two goals, it proved a rather successful one.

“It felt good, it’s kind of weird now starting,” Niebuhr said. “But I was excited and ready to play, especially having Friday’s game under my belt.

“[The RedHawks] were very direct and very possessive. So our thing was to just drop off and kind of keep them in front of us, and I thought we did a pretty solid job of doing that.”

Her connection with junior captain Grace Campbell was put to the test early on and the two center backs did well to read the game and prevent Miami from having too many threatening shots on goal.

The RedHawks unleashed an array of shots at senior Nicole Amari and the Ohio defense—18 total and seven on target—but the Bobcats did well to limit the danger in the box and make Miami settle for longer shots.

Another reason why the RedHawks didn’t rack up the score was the solid play of Amari, who came off her line many times to deny Miami clear goal-scoring opportunities. In the 39th minute, when a miscommunication allowed a Miami forward to beat the Bobcats’ offside trap, she found herself alone against Amari with about 25 yards of space.

Amari quickly recognized the danger, darted off her line and stuffed the RedHawks’ first shot, allowing her defense to recover. The Miami forward attempted another turnaround shot with Amari stranded about 12 yards from goal but the attempt was weak and easily cleared.

However, there was almost nothing Amari could have done about the second goal that came in the 76th minute. Sophomore Jenna Wiener fought off repeated challenges by Campbell and launched a shot past Amari as she tried to retreat back into goal.

The second goal ended the game and the Bobcats chances of breaking the winless streak that Miami has held over them for since 2008.

The Battle of the Bricks match was also a chance to see some younger faces get an extended minutes on the field, as freshman Kelley Zebrowski made her first start and other freshmen such as Allie Curry, Celest Fushimi-Karns, Hannah Jaggers and Niebuhr also saw a significant amount of time

“I think it’s good for us,” Zebrowski said of Ohio’s utilization of underclassman. “All the freshmen want to prove themselves. They have a lot of energy, and I think they definitely come out trying to be the best they can because they’re not complacent, and they don’t already have a spot given to them.”

Time will tell if Rodgers' plan of injecting some youth players into the lineup will succeed as the Bobcats travel to Bowling Green, Ohio, to take on the Falcons on Friday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m.