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Ohio State women’s soccer sweeps opening weekend, including top-10 foe

Then-freshman Nichelle Prince (7) avoids a defender during a game against Pittsburgh Aug. 28, 2013. OSU won 2-0.  Credit: Lantern file photo

Then-freshman Nichelle Prince (7) avoids a defender during a game against Pittsburgh Aug. 28, 2013. OSU won 2-0.
Credit: Lantern file photo

“Failure happens all the time. What makes you better is how you react to it.”

It might seem cliché to quote four-time NCAA champion and two-time gold medalist Mia Hamm, but the Ohio State women’s soccer team proved in their opening weekend that last season’s disappointments wouldn’t hold them back.

The Buckeyes opened their 2015 season taking on two new opponents: the Illinois State University Redbirds and the eighth-ranked University of Florida Gators. This was OSU’s first time in its 23-year history taking on either team, but in both matchups the Buckeyes came out victorious.

After finishing 6-10-3 last season, ending their 2014 campaign with a 2-0 loss to Rutgers, the Buckeyes have been on the hunt for redemption.

In Friday night’s match against ISU, the Buckeyes were quick to take charge, scoring twice in the first five minutes of action. OSU would post a 6-2 victory against the four-time defending Missouri Valley Conference Champions to gain its first win of the season.

In her 19th year as head coach for OSU, Lori Walker was proud of her team’s performance but looks for it to improve as the season continues.

“We were strong and saw improvement on a lot of the things we were working on in the preseason,” Walker said. “On the critical side, we need to play faster. There were multiple times I saw us slow down tonight, so we need to correct that.”

And the Buckeyes would correct themselves as they headed back to the home field for a matchup against No. 8 Florida, a team that throughout its history has been successful, and which is coming off a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals last season.

The teams clashed through 90 minutes, with a scoreless regulation finish sending the game into overtime.

That’s when the Buckeyes took control, as junior forward and assistant captain Lindsay Agnew slotted a through ball to fellow junior forward Nichelle Prince, who would tally her seventh career game-winner to grant OSU its upset against the Gators.

“We knew we had to be strong on the ball to get inside their defense and it was that way all day,” Prince said. “All we needed was one chance to go our way and luckily I was able to find the back of the net.”

Prince and the Buckeyes will look to continually battle the odds this season, as OSU was ranked ninth in the Big Ten women’s soccer preseason coaches poll.

“We’re working for one another. We’re coming into this year looked at as the underdog in the NCAA,” Prince said. “But we are really just coming into each game knowing we have confidence in our team and we know we can do this. That’s giving us a bit of an edge right now.”

Walker also stressed the importance of team unity in the upcoming matches, emphasizing that it will be the team’s strength.  

“We focused on the strength of our defending and the block of our defending,” Walker said. “Making sure that we are playing for one another and in overtime, that’s what you have to lean on.”

The Buckeyes look to continue to fight through their nonconference schedule, with scheduled trips to the University of Dayton on Aug. 27 before traveling again to Austin, Texas, to take on the University of Texas Longhorns on Aug. 30.

 

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