Following a week of practice, the Buckeyes seem to have replaced the bad taste in their mouths left from a late-game collapse against Purdue.
OSU (4-4-0, 1-1-0) enters Friday’s game at No. 8 Penn State (6-1-0, 2-0-0) with a chance to regain momentum and finish its three-game road swing on the winning side.
“We’re excited about it,” OSU coach Lori Walker said. “It’s always a tough road trip since it’s a lot of time on the bus, but it’s a single game this weekend so we’ll get a little bit of rest afterwards.”
The trip from OSU to Penn State comes in at about 325 miles.
Putting together their “flashes of brilliance” and finding consistency in their game will be the keys for the Buckeyes this weekend, Walker said.
OSU allowed two goals in the final 10 minutes of last Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Purdue.
“Our first half against Purdue was really good soccer … then we just came out pretty flat in the second half,” said senior midfielder Ellyn Gruber, who did not play in the game because of an injury. “Being able to put two halves together is very important right now.”
Penn State is statistically a first-half team, having outscored its opponents 9-1 in first half this season.
The Nittany Lions, led by junior forward Mallory Weber, are on a three-game winning streak following shutout victories against Purdue and Indiana last weekend.
Nearing the midway point of the season, it’s those players with the least experience who have been leading the Buckeyes. Freshman midfielder Nikki Walts and freshman forward Sammy Edwards have combined for four goals and three assists this season. Walker lauded the play of her point-scoring first-years, but she also praised the work of their classmate, midfielder Sydney Dudley.
“(Dudley’s) sort of a lone hero right now that’s doing all the grunt work and not getting some of the glory,” Walker said.
Dudley played two full matches for OSU as a defensive midfielder last weekend.
The Buckeyes’ defense was especially strong against Purdue, Gruber said.
Sophomore Lindsay Agnew’s move from forward to defender has helped solidify OSU’s backline. Agnew made the switch earlier this season when injuries began to thin the Buckeyes’ depth on defense.
“I think that (Agnew) is going to be good anywhere on the field,” junior defender Marisa Wolf said. “She is very patient on the ball and is able to approach the ball with confidence.”
The Buckeyes’ patience on defense will be critical to their success against Penn State, Walker said.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday in State College, Pa.