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Ohio will enter its 20th season of play at Chessa Field with the goal of pulling out close games.
Last season the Bobcats went a disappointing 5-12-1, but nine of those losses came by just one goal, and six of those losses came in overtime. The young Bobcats proved in those close losses they had the ability to play with some tough competition.
Ohio’s close contests last year can be contributed to the combined excellence in the net by Taylor Smith, Erin Beurket and Vanessa Cordoba. All three shared playing time throughout the 2016 season. Smith played in four games and recorded 13 saves and Cordoba appeared in three games and recorded 17 saves. Beurket received the majority of the starts, recording 63 saves in 12 games.
All three goalies will look to carry that momentum from impressive seasons last year into a season where they will face many familiar strikers — Ohio’s schedule this season contains 17 of the 18 teams the Bobcats faced last season.
Matt Starkey | FILE
Mandy Arnzen (6) battles for the ball agaisnt Western Michigan at Chessa Field on September 30th, 2016.
Ohio’s offense will also be helped by the familiar schedule as the Bobcats will return 11 of the 12 players that scored a goal last season, including Bryce Hueber and Alivia Milesky, who tied for the team lead with four goals each.
Backing up Hueber and Milesky in the offensive attack will be Sydney Leckie and Allie Curry. Curry scored three goals and two assists in her junior year in 2016. Leckie scored two goals in her freshman season and led the team with four assists in 2016.
Coach Aaron Rodgers hopes the experienced 2017 squad, which only lost five players from 2016, can return Ohio to the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Bobcats have not reached the MAC Tournament since Rodgers’ first season at the helm in 2013.
But Rodgers program returning to the MAC Tournament for the first time in three seasons will have its challenges — including losing Alexis Milesky, who scored 17 goals throughout her four-year career and was a constant force on the pitch due to her aggressive play.
Another challenge for Ohio in 2017 is a Sept. 10 showdown with the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats are the only team on the 2017 schedule that the Bobcats did not play in 2016.
That will be the first time the Bobcats will face a Southeastern Conference team since they traveled to Kentucky in 2015. The Wildcats won that game 3-0.
The game at Chessa Field in September will be the seventh meeting all-time between Ohio and Kentucky, but just the second game to be played in Athens. It will also be the first time an SEC program has played in Athens since Ohio softball hosted a doubleheader with Kentucky softball in 2016.
The weekend of Sept. 22-24 will be the 20th season celebration. Alumni events will be take place throughout the weekend, and Ohio will host Eastern Michigan that Friday, followed by Central Michigan that Sunday, in two showdown MAC games.Back