The Ohio State men’s soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 in front of a home crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sunday afternoon after defeating Dayton 4-3 in penalty kicks following a 1-1 double-overtime draw.
“Sweet 16 sounds a lot better than round three,” OSU junior forward Danny Jensen said, referring to the round the Buckeyes are now advancing to. “I just hope we could keep this going whether it’s a trip to California or playing at the Jesse.”
The Buckeyes moved to 13-6-3 after the game, while the Flyers ended their season 13-5-5.
Jensen and senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer played the role of hero in Sunday’s match.
With the Buckeyes down a point, Jensen scored in the 72nd minute to keep the home team’s hopes and dreams alive.
“I was hoping we wouldn’t go down a goal because our record of being down a goal is not very good this year,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “We were able to manage because of a very nice goal by Danny to get back into the game.”
The Buckeyes and the Flyers were forced into penalty kicks when the game remained at a 1-1 tie after a pair of overtime periods.
Once there, Froschauer led the Scarlet and Gray to the victory with a total of two saves in the five-round penalty kick session.
“You get to penalty kicks and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Bluem said. “But we have a lot of faith and confidence in (Froschauer) that he’s going to come up with a save, and he did.”
Despite advancing, the Buckeyes did not play at its best as Dayton took full advantage of OSU’s deficiencies.
The Buckeyes and the Flyers battled it out in the first half, but neither team managed to score.
The best looks of the half came from the Scarlet and Gray, with several different opportunities.
Senior defender Liam Doyle took a penalty kick after freshman forward Abdi Mohamed was fouled in the box during the 6th minute, but Dayton junior goalkeeper Justin Saliba saved his shot.
In the 30th minute, sophomore forward Marcus McCrary sent in a shot after Jensen forced a turnover but his ensuing shot was saved.
In the second half, the Flyers came close to scoring a goal right out of the gate, but Froschauer came up with a save.
However, just five minutes later Dayton senior defender/midfielder Alex Amankwah sent in a header to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead early in the second half.
OSU kept a level head despite being down a point.
Jensen scored his sixth goal of the season after getting loose with the ball and going into attack mode, sending in a shot from far out and tying the game to keep the Buckeyes’ hopes alive.
“Something happened in the middle and fortunately the ball bounced over one of their last defender and I ran out at kind of an awkward angle,” Jensen said describing the goal. “But I actually had it in line because I was the opposition and I took it off my chest, and I knew if I hit a good shot and kept it below the crossbar it would probably go in.”
Neither team scored for the rest of the second half, forcing the game to head into the extra sessions.
In the second overtime, Dayton came close to scoring, but the ball hit of the crossbar and was cleared safely.
Despite the look, both Dayton and OSU did not score, leading the game into penalty kicks with each team’s season hanging in the balance.
Bluem said, given the competitive nature of the tournament, he had his team work on penalty kicks in the days leading up to the game in case it came down to that. OSU is no stranger to that situation, as last year it advanced past Akron in the first round of the tournament after a 15-round affair.
“We practiced penalty kicks every day for the past week or so and we became a little bit more serious as we got closer and closer to this game,” Bluem said. “The five guys that stepped up today all had very good shots.”
In the fifth round of penalty kicks, Froschauer made his second save of the shootout to seal the victory.
“It honestly helped that (Dayton) went into (penalty kicks) Thursday night, so we knew where they were going with their first two shooters, but it went the opposite way,” Froschauer said. “From there I just tried to read the shooter more and go from there.”
Overall, shots were 17-12 in favor of Dayton, while the Flyers also held a 7-6 lead in corner kicks.
Froschauer ended with a total of seven saves against his former team, plus the two key stops in the third and fifth rounds of the penalty kicks.
The Buckeyes are set to travel to Palo Alto, California, to take on eighth-seeded Stanford (15-2-2) after the Cardinal defeated Santa Clara 3-1 on Sunday. The third-round matchup is scheduled to take place on either Nov. 28 or Nov. 29. Kickoff time has yet to be announced.
Update, Nov. 22, 10:15 p.m – This post has been updated to reflect the outcome of the second-round game between Stanford and Santa Clara.