Editors Note: We sent Michael Wells, a local photographer in the Kentucky area to cover this past weekends Midwest Conference Tournament hosted by Ohio State. This is the 3rd year in a row that the Buckeyes have hosted this tourney, and this years version had a record number of teams participating. Mike returned with a boat load of info and some great photos.
GAME 7: Kent State vs Ohio State 2
Kent State came out looking for revenge after their loss to Ohio State. The Golden Flashes got on the board first, and even though Ohio State was able to answer right away, Kent State responded. Just like that, the score was 2-1 in favor of Kent State. After what was a very quick start and what looked like what was going to be a very high scoring game, the defenses started to up their play. The two would trade goals to end the first half of play, giving Kent State the 3-2 lead at halftime.
After the half, the Buckeyes came alive!! The Buckeyes would score four unanswered goals before the Golden Flashes found the net again. With 2:00 to play, the Buckeyes had a demanding 7-4 lead and were able to get possession and seal the victory.
Both games that Kent State played against Ohio State (team 1 & 2), Kent State was able to come out strong, and both games they lost gas in the end and handed it to the Buckeyes.
GAME 8: Kentucky vs Ohio State 1
Good defense and poor offense was the first ten minutes of this game. Kentucky was finally able to break the silence ad go up 1-0. Poor passing by both teams kept leading to turnovers, and poor communication was hurting everyone on the field. Even after Kentucky took the lead 1-0, this cycle of poor passing and communication by both teams would continue.
Kentucky would start playing better offense, but once their shots were on target, the Ohio State goalie was stopping everything sent his way. However, on the other side of the field, the Buckeyes simply could not get anything past the Wildcats defense. Kentucky would find the net one more time before the half, and go into halftime up 2-0.
The Wildcats and Buckeyes would trade goals to open up the second half to make the score 3-1, but the Kentucky offense would not stop there. The Wildcats made it 4-1 shortly after that, as their offense was starting to come together very nicely and communicate much better. Ohio State tried to come on strong, but every shot they made was called off for being in the crease. The Buckeyes simply could not get things moving after their one goal, and the Wildcats would win 4-1 and advance to the championship game to play undefeated Cincinnati.
GAME 9: Miami vs Kent State
The battle of the winless teams for 7th and 8th place. 15:00 of pure defense!! Good shots, good communication, just simply pure defense for the first 15:00! As in their last two games of the day, Kent State stuck first! The Golden Flashes were actually able to add another goal in the final 5:00 of the first half to make it 2-0 at the half. 15:00 scoreless, followed by two Kent State goals in 5:00. The crowd was questioning if they would see their first shutout of the day, as the RedHawks defense was just sloppy the last 5:00.
Goalies were amazing in the second half. Stop after stop, save after save for 13:00!! With the Golden Flashes leading 2-0 with 7:00 to play, Miami found the net, and the crowd was in shock. The shutout rumors were silenced, and the RedHawks were still alive. It only took Miami 3:00 to find the net again and lock the score at 2-2. Miami went 33:00 without a goal, and then got two in less than 4:00. On last second efforts, both teams had goals called off for being in the crease. The game headed to overtime at 2-2. Overtime was scoreless for 3:00, as the Kent State goalie stopped three shots, but he was unable to stop the fourth. Miami found the net for the game-winning goal!
Miami was scoreless for 33:00 minutes before they scored two goals in the final 7:00 to send the game to overtime; then sink the game-winner in overtime. An amazing comeback by Miami to send the Golden Flashes back to Kent State 0-3 on the day and officially in last place (8th).
GAME 10: Louisville vs Ohio State2 – Consolation Championship
Ohio State started to game by winning the faceoff and scoring a goal on their very first shot. Within :15 Ohio State was up 1-0. Two possessions after that, Ohio State would add another goal to make the score 2-0. It looked as if Louisville was going to be finishing the day in 6th place overall. Their speed, their communication, everything was off. Just when the Louisville fans started to get quiet, #19 Mayer found the net for the Cards. Trailing 2-1, the Cards were still alive; but Ohio State had other plans. #36 found #38 to make it 3-1 in favor of Ohio State. #7 was winning every single faceoff for Ohio State, giving them possession right back after scoring on the Cards. This allowed the Buckeyes to make it 5-1 late in the first half, scoring on simple plays against a tired Louisville defense. #5 Porter of Louisville was able to close out the half with a goal for the Cards, but trailing 5-2 at the half, the Cards had a lot of work to do.
#35 Sam Long came in at goalie for Louisville in the second half. Ohio State seemed to be playing less aggressive, knowing that they had the win already secured. This is when Louisville took advantage and scored to make the game 5-3 in favor of Ohio State. That goal seemed to be the exact thing the Buckeyes needed to wake up and start playing more aggressive. Ohio State’s #38 and #4 would score for the Buckeyes to make it 7-3, and McNair would not let a single ball into his net after letting one get by him in earlier in the second half. The Buckeyes would claim 5th place overall, and the Consolation Championship, sending Louisville home 1-2 on the day, but with the one win (over Miami) that they needed to keep their season alive.
GAME 11: Ohio State1 vs Ohio
Ohio won the opening faceoff, but the offense simply could not get anything going against the Ohio State defense. After many failed attempts to move the ball closer to the net, Ohio started shooting from long range. On the third attempt, Ohio was able to find the net from over 30 yards out!! The Buckeyes would not let that damage their spirits. They fought back hard, but just like the Bobcats, they were unable to get the ball inside; and unlike the Bobcats making one from afar, the Buckeyes shooting accuracy from afar was not good. Multiple shots flew wide of the goal, making it an easy first half for the Bobcats goalie. Ohio was able to score another goal with under 5:00 to play until the half. They would also score another goal with :05 to play in the half, on another wild shot to where they were simply just shooting a wild shot because time was expiring. It wasn’t a pretty half for the Bobcats, only scoring one goal with a set pattern, but luck was on their side, and the scoreboard looked really pretty at 3-0.
Ohio State would come into the second half refocused, and after a few wide shots, the Buckeyes were able to get on the board and trail the Bobcats 3-1. Ohio State started producing some really good offense, and great shots on goal, but the Ohio goalie was on point! Ohio State even had a double doink that failed to find the net after all the noise it made. The luck of the Bobcats offense simply was not with the Buckeyes.
Both teams traded goals to make the score 4-2 in favor of the Bobcats, and then with 3:00 to play, the Bobcats destroyed any idea of a comeback in the minds of the Buckeyes, scoring the final goal of the game to make it 5-2 in favor of Ohio. Ohio claimed third place on the day, and finished with a 2-1 record to take back to Athens, Ohio.
GAME 12: Kentucky vs Cincinnati – Championship
The undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats came into the 2019 Midwestern Invitational Tournament Championship Game ranked #9 in NCLL DI with an 8-0 record. The Kentucky Wildcats came in ranked #22 in NCLL DII, after falling victim to their rivals, the Louisville Cardinals the previous week, but did beat NCLL DI Ohio State2 and Ohio State1 to enter into the championship game. All eyes were on Cincinnati. The Bearcats had had a few scares throughout the season and even in this tournament, but in the end, they always came out victorious.
Kentucky was able to silence any trash talking early on in the game, as the Wildcats scored on their second possession to make it 1-0 in favor of Kentucky. The energy on the Kentucky sidelines and from the Wildcat fans was huge! The Wildcats were able to make a statement early that they were here to play, and divisions and rankings don’t have anything to do with what is taking place at the moment.
Two possessions later, Cincinnati’s #23 would even the game at 1-1. Tempers and emotions ran high. So high that two players got into a fight after an illegal hit. Just 10:00 into the game, both teams found themselves with one of their top players ejected from the game for fighting. The Wildcats were mad! They were arguing that the players should not be ejected but rather penalties should be given. The referee wasn’t having it at all. Kentucky fed off this, using it as momentum, and quickly got a goal to make it 2-1 in favor of Kentucky. Kentucky then won the faceoff and added another goal to make it 3-1 in favor of the Wildcats. It was simply complete domination by the Wildcats from the moment play resumed after both players had been ejected.
Cincinnati would take a timeout, only to turn around and commit a penalty. The Bearcats were able to regroup and kill the penalty. Once the penalty was killed and they were back to even, Cincinnati’s #7 would find the net for the Bearcats. Cincinnati now trailed 3-2 with 2:00 to play until the half. Neither team would score the remaining two minutes, and the Wildcats would go into the half up 3-2. Kentucky had possession of the ball for most of the first half. Great passing and communication at every position made this possible. Cincinnati was simply not able to create turnovers against the Wildcats offense.
The first five minutes of the second half was a defensive battle. The Bearcats had more shots on goal than the Wildcats, but the Kentucky defense just would not back down. With 9:00 to play, the Bearcats would commit a penalty, giving Kentucky a one-man advantage for 1:00. #0 would capitalize on the penalty, scoring for the Wildcats and increasing their lead to 4-2. However, Cincinnati was not done! With only 3:00 to play the Bearcats found the net to make it a one-goal game at 4-3. Kentucky would then be called for holding with 2:00 to play, and Cincinnati would score on the first shot of the penalty to tie the game at 4-4 with just 1:30 to play. With :29 to play, #0 would find #16, and #16 would score for the Wildcats to make it 5-4 in favor of Kentucky. Cincinnati won the faceoff, but poor rebounding by their defenders after a blocked shot by the Kentucky goalie would give Kentucky the ball with :10 to play, sealing the victory and the 2019 Midwestern Invitational Tournament Championship. Cincinnati was handed their only loss of the 2019 season at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats.