[Payton Brooker | WOUB]

Boyd and Berish boost Bobcats into MAC Tournament with 3-0 win over Akron

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Eve Berish’s 83rd minute goal was the straw that broke Akron and all but guaranteed a victory for Ohio – it’s sixth of the year.  

Ohio hosted Akron in its final game of the season at Chessa Field with hopes of not only getting a much-needed victory in front of its home fans but improving their chances of clinching a berth in the 2023 Mid-American Conference Tournament.  

And those hopes came to fruition. 

First Half Dominance Sparks Late Goal for Bobcats 

Head coach Aaron Rodgers’ plan was simple – get on the attack early. After attempting 30 shots in their 1-0 victory against Eastern Michigan on Sunday, the Bobcats kept their foot on the gas.  

Rodgers and his squad had already accumulated seven shots in the first half on Thursday and even forced three saves from Akron goalkeeper Sara Bower.  

With just under two minutes left in the opening half, Ohio’s offense got back to work. Mia Kaufman glided down the sideline and crossed in a grounder with Senior Izzi Boyd at the ready.  

Boyd, who already had two goals on the year, added to her collection by slotting the ball home. 

The Bobcats broke the deadlock – giving them the chance to take a collected breath at the halftime break.  

Ohio’s Urgency Pays Off Down the Stretch 

Many fans at Chessa Field were not solely tuned in on the action on the field, however. For the Bobcats to clinch the final spot in the six-team MAC postseason tournament, they needed losses from two other foes – Toledo and Buffalo.  

Defeats from those two teams were just part of the puzzle. The final piece – a Bobcat win.  

Boyd and her team stayed on the prowl, continuing to put Akron’s backs against the wall. Midfielders Carsyn Prigge and Eve Berish led the attack as the Bobcats combined for 12 more shots.  

Prigge’s pivotal presence in the midfield paid dividends in the 77th minute as she found a gap between the Zip defenses. She slotted another grounder to the trailing Boyd – who took advantage and sent another one in the back of the net.  

And just like that, the Bobcats were on the brink.  

Akron’s flickering light for hope was shut off by second-year midfielder Eve Berish just six minutes later.  

The ball took a high bounce during another Ohio advancement into Akron’s penalty area. Berish was the first one to do it and tapped it over Bower’s outstretched hands.  

With a commanding 3-0 and just minutes to go, everyone at Chessa Field knew something special was taking place. Whether it was the last game of the year or not, nothing was taking those fans out of the stands – even when the final whistle blew.  

Rodgers Reflects 

Heading into Thursday afternoon’s contest, tenth-year Head Coach Aaron Rodgers and his team knew that they were not guaranteed a playoff spot with a win.  

There was one guarantee – it was their last home game of the season. And he wanted them to soak it all in. 

“We just kept talking all week about creating a memory on [the] field. And they came out and did that,” Rodgers said. “So, they’ll always have [that].” 

Ohio’s continued growth on offense has given Rodgers great optimism – especially on a team with eight freshman and nine sophomores.  

“We’ve been knocking on the door all season. I think that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in,” Rodgers said. “I told [the team] that we couldn’t control anything in the past. We [had] to learn from it.” 

Rodgers also discussed his admiration for Boyd, who scored two goals for the Bobcats.

“(Boyd) has been diligent for all her years,” Rodgers said. “Just stuck with it all these years and it paid off in the end and scored two brilliant goals.”

Rodgers now sets his sights on the MAC Tournament.  

What’s Next? 

No. 6 Ohio kicks off its postseason on Sunday with a clash on the road against No. 5 Ball State. Both teams met in Muncie on Oct. 15 with the game ending in a 2-2 stalemate. Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.