ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio soccer team (9-6-1, 4-3-1 MAC) took home a crucial victory on a beautiful senior day against Mid-American Conference foe Eastern Michigan (4-10-2, 3-5 MAC) on Sunday (Oct. 20), with the Bobcats defeating the Eagles, 1-0, thanks to a late second half goal by senior Sydney Leckie. With the victory, Ohio picked up its ninth win, matching last season's win total with three games left to play in the regular season.
Prior to today's game, the Bobcats honored their five seniors; Alivia Milesky (Plain City, Ohio), Victoria Breeden (Hudson, Ohio), Alli Miller (Dayton, Ohio), Courtney Daugerdas (Libertyville, Ill.) and Leckie (Medina, Ohio).
"It was really a tactical battle," head coach Aaron Rodgers said. "We had to figure out how to break them down because they defended so well and were set up very well. I'm so proud of how we stay composed, how we're able to build and how we're able to create. We created so many chances today. We just have to be a little more clinical."
Both Ohio and Eastern Michigan fought in first half for control of the game. An early couple of shots were registered in the third and eighth minutes from Breeden and Milesky.
Action continued with Ohio registering another powerful shot on goal, this time from junior Paige Knorr (Cincinnati, Ohio), in the 26th minute. The Bobcats remained in heavy control of the game, receiving three consecutive corner kicks which eventually lead to a shot by junior Jenni Santacaterina (Geneva, Ill.) who sent the ball flying just right of the goal in the 27th minute.
Eastern Michigan came up with an answer to Ohio's pressure and got physical at the end of the half. Forward Nichole Remedios registered a hard shot on goal in the 39th minute and just a minute later, received a yellow card for a foul in the midfield on sophomore forward Abby Townsend (Powell, Ohio).
Eastern Michigan closed the half with a run of offense and a near goal opportunity in the 43rd minute when forward Sabrina McNeill headed the ball off an Eastern Michigan corner toward the Ohio goal. Junior goalkeeper Sydney Malham (Nashville, Tenn.) answered, coming up with a huge fingertip save sending the ball just left of the goal. Both teams entered the half scoreless.
Great save from Malham to keep the game scoreless going into halftime! pic.twitter.com/xbzhacKgpK— Ohio Soccer (@OhioWSoccer) October 20, 2019
Opening the second half, Eastern Michigan continued to look dangerous, winning a corner in the 47th minute leading to yet another shot on goal for the Eagles.
Seconds after Eastern Michigan's shot attempt, Ohio answered with a shot on goal of their own from Townsend in the 48th minute who sent it just left of the net.
Ohio came close to breaking the deadlock with a great run of pressure in the 60th minute when freshman Maddie Young (Cincinnati, Ohio) hit a shot just off the inside of the post.
Ohio kept the offense in high gear with Townsend registering two more shots on goal in the 66th and 67th minutes. Milesky also played a role in the in the offensive action, sending a shot in low to the left in the 70th minute that was met with a save from Eastern Michigan goalkeeper Chelsea Abbotts.
Ohio's offensive pressure finally paid off when Leckie scored off an assist from Milesky in the 73rd minute, putting Ohio up 1-0.
After a great run of play from the Bobcats the late action continued when Ohio was awarded a penalty kick in 85th minute. Eastern Michigan goalkeeper Abbotts took out sophomore Olivia Sensky (Powell, Ohio) on a botched attempt to grab the ball. Leckie stepped up to take the penalty, but Abbotts came up with a big save, keeping the score at 1-0.
After some scrappy final moments including an Eastern Michigan free kick just inside the final 15 seconds, Malham easily held on to the final shot on goal from the free kick from Remedios, securing the 1-0 win for Ohio.
Overall, Ohio registered a dominate offensive performance with 18 shots with eight on goal compared to Eastern Michigan's eight shots and six on goal. Ohio also racked up nine corners kicks compared to Eastern Michigan's five.
Individually, Townsend led Ohio from the front once again with five shots, two of those on goal. Senior's Milesky and Leckie weren't far behind with Milesky registering three shots, two of which on goal and one assist, while Leckie shot twice and registered the only goal of the game.
In goal, Malham played the full 90 minutes and made five big saves for her second shutout of conference play.
Ohio looks to close out the regular season in the road starting on Thursday, Oct. 24 when the Bobcats take on Miami. First touch is set for 4 p.m. in Oxford, Ohio.