[Payton Brooker | WOUB]

Ohio Field Hockey comes up short in a battle against the Michigan State Spartans

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Ohio Field Hockey (5-5) rounded out its weekend home stand with a matchup against the Michigan State Spartans (5-5).

Ohio came into the matchup searching for a much needed win after dropping its previous two matches against the VCU Rams and the Kent State Golden Flashes. The Spartans were in a similar situation coming off three straight losses against three ranked opponents. 

Early on, both teams were playing lockdown defense. Both teams struggled to find scoring opportunities and push past the wall of defenders on both sides.

That was until just under five minutes left in the first quarter, when the Bobcats earned a corner. Junior defender Meela Kopp took advantage of the opportunity and connected on the corner to give Ohio an early 1-0 lead over the Spartans.

The Bobcats’ defense stood tall for the remainder of the first taking a 1-0 lead after the first 15 minutes.

It was the same story in the second with goalkeeper Nele Graner making difficult save after difficult save including one with five minutes left in the quarter. The Spartans were able to generate more looks but Ohio’s defense continued to shine. 

“We talked about just stepping up and stepping front,” head coach Ali Johnstone said. “It’s kind of scary if you step and you miss but they played with confidence and it shows. That’s really fun to watch.”

The Bobcats carried that 1-0 lead into the halftime break. In the first 30 minutes, Ohio only mustered two shots on goal but made good on one of the two attempts.  

After the break, Ohio got their third shot on goal with 11:04 left in the quarter after the second corner of the game. 

MSU got its shot with 9:22 in the third but Graner and the defense stepped up once again. Graner made back-to-back diving saves to preserve the one goal lead. 

But the Bobcats defense could only hold for so long. Late in the third, Midfielder Emma O’Neill capitalizes on the consistent pressure and sneaks one past Graner to knot the game up at one a piece. 

Late that same quarter, MSU continued their attack. Junior Lulu Felton found the back of the net to give the Spartans their first lead of the game. 

In the fourth, the Bobcats doubled their shot attempts from four to eight but couldn’t get one past goalkeeper Monique Jardell. With three minutes left in the match, Ohio subbed out Graner and went with an empty net look. The extra attacker wasn’t enough and the Bobcats came up short, dropping the contest 2-1. 

“My team is awesome,” Johnstone said. “That’s what I take from this… We let a couple in and now we have some video and now we get better.”

Ohio’s next matchup is set for October 7 when they take on the Ball State Cardinals.

“For us, the MAC games are the most important games,” Johnstone said. “We do everything we can to win but it’s also what we need to win the MAC.”