Courtesy OhioBobcatTV

Ohio Soccer Notebook

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Leah Sandercock at center back?

Sandercock, who usually plays as a midfielder, was slotted in as the right center back over the weekend. It was an interesting choice after freshman Megan Niebuhr spent much of her time there after Gabby Hausfeld tore her ACL during the season. While Dayton dominated much of the Ohio defense on Saturday, it was especially interesting to see Sandercock communicate with the back line and try and adjust to a relatively-new position.

Interesting prospect for next season, but Niebuhr should get the nod on form alone.

Communication is key for back line.

With newcomer Sandercock and a relatively-inexperienced Celeste Fushimi-Karns starting in the back line, communication was crucial for the Bobcats on Saturday. Unfortunately it was scarse, as players often ran to the same places, allowed forwards to penetrate the back line and were generally unorganized on set pieces.

Grace Campbell always seemed to be the one talking, which is what you want from a potential future captain, but she can’t be the only one. It always takes awhile for a group of players, especially in defense, to get used to each other’s strengths and positioning, so this shouldn’t be a problem by regular season time.

Current freshman getting chance to shine in absense of seniors.

With regular starters Annie Beard, Tonya Frasik, Liz Finley and Nicole Amari not returning to Ohio next season, it was time for Aaron Rodgers to insert some freshman in their places. Fushimi-Karns performed the best of them, taking Frasik’s spot at right back and injecting some pace and positional awareness to the right wing.

Kelly Zebrowski shined as well, using her pace and deft touch to try and break away from the tight Dayton defense.

Rachel Fryan played in goal, but Brooke Mauro should get more chances to play this season.

Size matters.

Speaking of seniors, the Bobcats are going to miss Beard’s size next season. Beard was always a threat on set pieces and brought some real grit to the midfield as a holding mid. Her aerial prowess and strength made her a nighmare for the opposition and someone to lean on for Ohio.

Without her, the Bobcats will likely rely on Niebuhr’s height to convert on set pieces. As for the midfield, Sandercock did well in a holding role last year and she brings a similar skill set to Beard’s, if you subtract a couple inches.

Things will be better if Ohio can get significant contributions out of those two, but you simply can’t replace Beard’s tenacity for the ball and ability in the air.

Set piece defending must improve.

Finally, the Bobcats must improve on their set piece defending before the beginning of the season. It wasn’t quite clear if they had adopted a zonal marking system or a man-marking approach, but either way Ohio needs to defend its box. One of Dayton’s three goals on Saturday came from a miscued hit on the near post, but it should have been an easy clearence.

Outside of that chance, the Flyers used corners to really expose the holes in the Ohio defense and whether it be Sandercock, Niebuhr or whomever organizing the defense, they will need to keep big, physical teams like Dayton from taking advantage of the Bobcats’ errors on set plays.