[Ethan Sargeant | WOUB]

Ohio Soccer Opens MAC Play With Victory Over Buffalo

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The Bobcats (5-3) opened Mid-American Conference play with a statement win against the Buffalo Bulls (6-2), 2-1.

After dropping three of their last four games, the Bobcats entered MACtion in desperate need of a victory. Ohio had a tall task entering Thursday facing off against a hot Buffalo team. The Bulls were winners of six straight coming into Chessa Field.

“We knew what we had to do coming in here,” senior Haley Miller said.  “It was more about knowing what we needed to do and getting the job done.”

The Bobcats were certainly up to the task despite a rocky start.  Tess Ford found the back of the net just eight minutes in to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead.  The goal came off an Abbey Callaghan assist.

Ohio wasted no time striking back.  Just one minute and 15 seconds later, Maddison Clayton responded for the Bobcats firing one into the net to knot the game up at one.

Ohio Soccer's Abby Townsend (16) and Madison Clayton (7) celebrate after Clayton's goal in the first half of the Bobcats' game against Buffalo on September 23, 2021. [Ayden Crowley | WOUB]
Abby Townsend (16) and Madison Clayton (7) celebrate Clayton’s goal in the first half [Ayden Crowley | WOUB]
“We have to be strong mentally,” Ohio head coach Aaron Rodger said.  “We showed that today.  We showed that resilience, we showed that grit.  To give up a goal and to score less than two minutes later was a tremendous testament to the players…”

After the two early goals, the match seemed to stall.  Rain entered the area making it increasingly difficult to facilitate any offense. Both teams played physical defense and did not allow anymore goals going into the half.

The start of the second half seemed to bring much of the same.  Keeper Sam Wexel had several key saves to maintain the gridlock.  With overtime looming, the Bobcats finally got their shot.

In the 81st minute, Clayton crossed one into the box to Miller who connected on a header to put the Bobcats ahead. Miller stands at just 5’1” but showed no fear in the box against taller defenders.  Miller’s header turned out to be the winning goal in the match.  The Bobcats were able to hold on for the remaining eight minutes to secure their first MAC win in upset fashion.

“It’s amazing,” Rodgers said of the deciding goal.  “The smallest player on the field scores a header to win the game.  [Clayton] put in a tremendous ball and she was brave. Braver than everyone else.”

Ohio has little time to celebrate.   The Bobcats will hit the road to take on Akron Sunday as in conference play heats up.