2013 MAC Soccer Season Preview: Ohio

New head coach Aaron Rodgers offers some instruction during fall practice. - Kaleb Carter

An Ohio program under new leadership looks looks to change things in Athens

It is a new era in Athens, Ohio as the Bobcats welcome new coach Aaron Rodgers to the fold. Rodgers brings a great deal of experience, having played in the USL and having coached at the collegiate level for programs like Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, South Alabama, North Texas (his alma mater), North Florida, and even other stops. He has worked with many goalies and this experience could prove invaluable to senior Mattie Liston and the young goalies behind her.

Rodgers rounds out his coaching staff by bringing in Allison Whitworth and Elizabeth Woerle, both of whom have professional soccer experience.

Rodgers' squad looks to be all about ball possession, and plans to model his team after squads like Barcelona, on top of some of his recent collegiate stops. He sees recruiting the most athletic players possible as the key to success in women's soccer.

Ohio went 8-10-1 a season ago, and has the chance to win a majority of their matches for the first time since 2002 when they went 15-5-1.

Ohio loses four seniors from a year ago, namely Cat Rogers, who led the squad in goals with seven in 2012. With the loss of the other three, Ohio loses players that accounted for 53% of their goals a year ago. If the Bobcats are to have success this fall, they are going to need to move the ball much more efficiently and take advantage of more opportunities. In 2012, the Bobcats netted only 17 goals in 19 games. Rodgers' more aggressive, control oriented attack could prove to be the right fit in getting the Bobcats to play more proficiently on offense.

Rodgers is excited what he has seen and what he expects to see going forth.

"I think they're trying to grasp the system and I think they are doing a good job...We'll also get to see the entire team, even the returners, how we have grasped so far, the concepts of pressing the ball and winning it back quickly, and trying to attack out of that to create more scoring opportunities than we have had in the past.

Names to look out for on Ohio's squad include:

  1. Maggie Murnane, a senior in her second year with Ohio after transferring from Dayton. Murnane scored two goals and assisted on two others a year ago. Her play and preparation for the 2013 season earned her a spot on the Preseason All-MAC second team as a midfielder.
  2. Holly Harris, the highest scoring returning player for Rodgers' group. Harris netted four goals and assisted on two more last season. In her sophomore season she figures to be essential in the Bobcats success in an attacking forwards' spot.
  3. Mattie Liston, who has started at least 17 matches in each of the last three seasons, and posted six shutouts in 2012. She will likely split some time with several younger goalies on the team.
Ohio will play host to Indiana, Wright State, and DePaul, all before September hits. The end of September will mark the beginning of a tough stretch when they face off against the likes of Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Miami, and Ball State, all in a span of under two weeks.

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