Updated Sun, Oct 20, 2013 1:08 pm
The Ohio soccer team entered Friday night looking to bounce above .500 in the Mid-American Conference against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, but the Bobcats dropped the home match, 3-0.
The Eagles put the Bobcats in a deep hole immediately, scoring goals in the eighth and 10th minutes. Eastern Michigan put pressure on Ohio goalie Matte Liston all game, putting up 23 shots and 18 on goal. Liston tied her career high with 15 saves, but they weren’t enough to stop the physical Eastern Michigan team.
“[The Eagles] pride themselves on winning 50-50 balls and being a strong, physical team, and we’ve got to match their intensity,” Rodgers said. “And we didn’t, and they got two goals early, which has been a problem that we’ve had.”
The Bobcats have struggled to jump on teams early in games, as 14 of the 19 goals they’ve allowed this season have come in the first half. And in October, the pressure applied to Liston and the defense has gone up from 8.4 to 22.4 shots per game.
Eastern Michigan got on the board in the eighth minute on a goal by Cara Cutaia, where she fired a shot from 10 yards out past the outstretched Liston. Angela Vultaggio bolstered the Eagle lead with a follow-up goal that was beautifully placed in the back-left corner.
The Eagles came out to play in the first half, while Rodgers was disappointed with the way his team performed.
“We were terrible. Our effort was not anywhere near even the average performance,” Rodgers said. “We looked very sluggish and very tired, and I have no explanation for that. So that’s something we’re going to have to address.”
Rodgers said he went with a different formation to start the game, but Eastern Michigan attacked the Ohio defense through the central part of the field, so Rodgers made the halftime adjustment to pinch his formation and make it difficult for Eastern Michigan to move the ball.
Although they didn’t possess the ball as much in the second half, the Eagles still managed 13 shots, and Cutaia connected on her second goal in the 79th minute, ending a second half shutout streak the Bobcats have held since Sept. 6.
The Bobcats’ bounce-back game comes against a tough MAC West opponent in Western Michigan (7-4-3, 5-1-1), who lost their first conference game of the season Friday night to Kent State. Rodgers is hoping that the momentum his team built in the second half will carry into Sunday.
“It has to (carry over). We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to play 90 minutes like that,” Rodgers said. “You’ve heard me say all my clichés all year. Those little segments of the game aren’t good enough and we’ve got to do that for 90 minutes. If we do that, we’re going to be successful. If we don’t, we’re going to struggle like we did today.”
Kickoff for Sunday’s game is set for 1 p.m. at Chessa Field. Ohio will recognize seniors Maggie Murnane, Natalie Bechtel, Alex Stec and Liston before the game for Senior Day.