ATHENS, Ohio – The Ohio field hockey team is set to open the 2017 regular season on the road this weekend when the Bobcats travel to Muncie, Ind. to compete with St. Louis (0-1-0) and Ball State (1-0-0).
Ohio will battle St. Louis on Saturday (Aug. 26) at 1 p.m. ET. The Bobcats will then face familiar foe Ball State at 2 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 27) at 2 p.m. ET.
MACMILLAN RETURNS FOR 13TH SEASON
Neil Macmillan is at the helm for his 13th season at Ohio. The Portsmouth, England, native sports an all-time record of 122-113 and has led the Bobcats to four MAC titles, 2006, '07, '09 and '11, during his tenure. He is the longest-tenured head coach in Mid-American Conference field hockey and is two victories away from becoming the all-time winningest coach in Ohio field hockey history.
REWINDING LAST SEASON
Ohio finished the 2016 season 6-11 overall and 3-3 in the Mid-American Conference.
The Bobcats return junior Kendall Ballard (Charlottesville, Va.), who earned First Team All-Mid-American Conference and Second Team All-Region honors while she also earned a spot on the U.S. U-21 National Team with USA Field Hockey. She led the Bobcats with a career-high 12 goals, 28 points, 55 shots and 31 shots on goal. Ballard also finished tied for second on the squad in assists (4), which was also a career-high. Ballard finished in the top-10 in the Mid-American Conference in shots (9th), points (5th), goals (5th) and assists (10th) during the 2016 season.
Senior Maria Russell (Hudson, Ohio) also returns to the Bobcat lineup for 2017. She received Second Team All-MAC recognition following the 2016 season. Russell finished in a tie for second on Ohio with six goals and was second on the squad in shots on goal with 15. Russell also ranked third on the team in shots (21) and points (14) while adding two assists to bring her career total to three. Russell now has 20 career goals to start her senior season.
Ohio's 2016 roster features six new players,-- Claire Buckey(Powell, Ohio), Peyton Taylor (Catonsville, Md.), Emma Spinnetto(Louisville, Ky.), Samara Schratz (McMurray, Pa.), Annmarie Hoppel (Fredricksburg, Va.) and Leah Warren (Hamilton, New Zeland).
BOBCATS PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH IN MAC PRESEASON POLL
The Ohio field hockey team has been picked to place fourth in the league standings in the 2017 Mid-American Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as voted on by the conference's head coaches, the league office announced.
The Bobcats received 19 points to tie with Ball State to finish fourth in the poll.
Defending league champion Kent State was picked to win the MAC by way of 41 points – including six first-place votes. The Golden Flashes were also picked to win the conference's tournament championship. Miami garnered 35 points to place second in the poll and also received one first-place vote. Longwood would fall in the third spot with 25 points.
Appalachian State and Central Michigan each tied for sixth place with four points each to round out the poll.
ST. LOUIS SCOUTING REPORT
The Bobcats and the Billikens are 9-5-2 with Ohio leading the series. Saturday's game will be the first time the two squads have competed since 2013.
St. Louis will return two of its top scorers from the 2016 season in Molly Feid and Carly Kissinger.
The Billikens finished last season 2-14 and 0-8 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Feid led the way for St. Louis in shots with 26 on the season as well as shots on goal with 16 and points with 15. Kissinger tallied 16 shots on the season as well as 13 points.
BALL STATE SCOUTING REPORT
Ball State and Ohio met twice last season with both victories going to Ohio. The first meeting took place in Athens, Ohio where the Bobcats secured an overtime 3-2 win. Ohio later traveled to Muncie and defeated Ball State, 2-1.
The Cardinals finished the 2016 campaign with an 8-11 record and went 3-3 in the MAC. Ball State also made the 2016 MAC Tournament for the first time since 2011.
Ball State returns three seniors to the roster as well as All-MAC selection, Darbi Gullett. Gullet recorded 20 shots on the season as well as seven points.
After the opening weekend, Ohio will continue matches on the road as the Bobcats travel to Cornell to compete with the Big Red on Friday, Sept. 1 at 5 p.m. Ohio will continue competition with Syracuse on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m.