The Ohio State men’s soccer team played with as if under fire in the second half Wednesday with one thing in mind: win and come home for its quarterfinal matchup in the Big Ten Tournament.
And, thanks to a late goal by sophomore forward Christian Soldat, that is exactly where it will be playing Sunday — against a familiar foe.
OSU (8-6-4, 5-3-0) defeated Michigan (6-8-3, 3-3-2), 2-1, in Ann Arbor, Mich., to conclude its regular season.
Soldat — the top substitution off OSU coach John Bluem’s bench — deflected a shot off of a Michigan defender with just over five minutes remaining. Michigan redshirt-senior goalkeeper Adam Grinwis was crossed up by the deflection, and the shot trickled under his leg for Soldat’s third goal of the season.
Though the deciding goal for the Buckeyes did not come until late, they wasted no time in getting the scoring started.
For the second time this season, sophomore Danny Jensen scored within the opening minute of the match. The forward streaked down the field and took a feed from senior midfielder Max Moller, putting it in the back of the net just 26 seconds in for his fourth goal of the season.
However, OSU was unable to hold onto that lead, as Michigan capitalized off a corner following a penalty kick saved by OSU redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov. Senior defender Ben Manko scored the goal off the corner with a header. Manko’s first of the season tied the game at 1-1 in the 31st minute, a score that held at the half.
Ivanov did a lot to keep his team in the game in the first half. The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week saved five shots in the opening half.
The Wolverines outshot OSU, 8-5, overall for the first half, with six of those coming on target.
The second half quickly turned that trend around, with OSU furiously searching for the deciding goal.
For the latter half, the Buckeyes outshot Michigan, 11-4, but were unfruitful in their pursuit for the game winner until Soldat’s score.
It was a physical game between the rivals, as OSU committed 12 fouls in the game, while Michigan was whistled for eight. Jensen and junior defender Liam Doyle were also hit with yellow cards in the second half, as was Michigan freshman defender Billy Stevens.
With about two minutes left, Ivanov made a save on a header going toward the top of the net to seal the victory. For the game, Ivanov, the Big Ten leader in saves, stopped six shots.
OSU’s dreams of winning a share of the Big Ten regular season title came to a close early in the second half, when Maryland’s 3-2 win at Rutgers went final. The Terrapins finished with 16 points to finish alone atop the conference.
However, OSU’s win was enough to push it one spot below Maryland as the second seed in the conference tournament.
The Buckeyes finished the season in a tie with Penn State and Northwestern at 15 points apiece, but receive the tiebreaker because they hold the top intra-conference goal differential of the three at +6.
As a result, the Buckeyes are set for a rematch with seventh-seeded Michigan. That game is scheduled for Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, with a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Clarification: Kickoff between OSU and Michigan on Sunday was originally listed as 2 p.m., but later changed to 1 p.m.