The Ohio State women’s soccer team (9-4-3, 4-3-2) returns home this week to host the Penn State Nittany Lions (11-3-2, 6-2-1) on Saturday evening.
After two straight road games, the Buckeyes are eager to get back to Columbus for a key game that could have a large impact on the Big Ten standings.
“I think there is just excitement this time of year,” OSU coach Lori Walker said. “We’re at a place where we value every game; we value every opportunity to score a goal. We’ve been at Penn State the last two years and so we’re excited to be here to have this game against them.”
The Buckeyes are coming off of a weekend split on the road — at Rutgers, a 2-0 loss, and Indiana, a 2-1 win — with the hopes that Saturday’s game will be the setting for a huge conference win.
Sophomore forward Sammy Edwards said the team does not want to end the season with regrets and will carry this approach through the remaining two games of the regular season.
“We always talk about how you’re going to want these games back in the offseason,” Edwards said. “You’re going to hate waking up for winter running and think ‘oh I wish I had that one run back or that one play back.’ I think you just have to play your hardest and get through the games.”
Two games left of the season or not, Walker said she still hopes to see improvements amongst her team and wants to see an aggressive team come out on Saturday night against the Nittany Lions.
“We’re always trying to get 1 percent better, so the thing for us is that we want to build on the steps forward we’ve taken in the last couple games,” Walker said. “It’s constantly getting better and we want to be intelligent about the way we defend against Penn State and make sure we’re taking away some of their opportunities, but we also want to find our opportunities to be dangerous in our attack.”
The last time the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes met, OSU defeated handily, 5-1.
“At this point in the season, you practice that championship mentality: survive and advance. We’ve got one game to worry about, and that’s Penn State, but we want to play as if it could potentially be your last game of the year,” Walker said.
As the season winds down, Walker focuses on pushing her players to the very end, and uncovering who’s strong enough to find success.
“This is the time of year where fatigue can really set in, mental fatigue, especially in our freshmen,” Walker said. “Making sure they’re being present when they’re at practice because there’s a lot of distractions. I think the teams that handle those distractions this time of year are the ones that can find success in November.”
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are set to kick off at 6 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.