The Ohio State men’s soccer team will hit the road this weekend to take on two West Coast opponents – Portland on Friday and Oregon State on Monday. It will be the first regular season West Coast action for the Buckeyes since 2012. It’s OSU first match against either team.
The trip comes on the heels of back-to-back overtime losses at home to start the season, falling 1-0 in double overtime to Virginia Tech and 1-0 in overtime to UC Santa Barbara. The Buckeyes will look to get back on the right track in the Beaver State.
“These are probably the two most important games that I can see in the upcoming future,” senior forward Danny Jensen said. “You don’t want to start 0-4 obviously so getting at least your first win and hopefully getting two wins out there is really what everyone is focused on.”
The main issue facing Ohio State early in the season has been scoring. The team did not manage to find the back of the net in either game it has played so far. Offense was the main point of emphasis in practice this week.
“First two games we did real well defending. Our defense stepped up,” sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed said. “Offensively, I think we just need to start finishing better. We need to just move off the ball. Our forwards just need to have confidence that they can finish and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Another issue facing the Buckeyes in their first two games was injuries. OSU only played 12 men in its game against UC Santa Barbara on Sunday. Reinforcements, however, are expected to be on the way.
“We are starting to get healthy,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “We are taking the full squad out to Portland with us. We expect that probably everybody will be able to play this weekend.”
The first game for the Buckeyes this weekend will come against Portland on Friday at 10 p.m. ET. The Pilots are coming off a 2015 campaign in which they finished with a 3-12-3 record, where they averaged exactly two goals against per game a year ago.
This season, Portland is 1-1 to start the year, with a loss to Wright State 3-1 and a win over DePaul 2-1. It is their first year under head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt.
All three of the Pilot’s goals this season have come from sophomore forward Jackson Jellah. Jellah did not score a goal in the entire 2015 season, despite playing in 16 games.
“Portland is a very, very good attacking team so we are going to have to – again – play against a side that is capable of creating chances,” Bluem said.
The Buckeyes will faceoff against Oregon State on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. The Beavers are 1-0-1 on the season, playing to a 1-1 draw against DePaul and beating up on Wright State 4-0. They are outshooting their opponents 33-17 to start the year, and they lead the Pac-12 in assists with seven.
Oregon State is lead by junior forward Jordan Jones, who tallied two goals and one assist in the team’s first two games. Jones and teammate Timmy Mueller have combined to score 36 career goals over the course of the past two seasons.
“Oregon State in the second game is a team that also uses its physical tools,” Bluem said. “It sounds like they play pretty direct. We have to be ready at all times for them to play a long ball at you and try to use their speed and strength and beat you.”
The Buckeyes will return home on Sept. 9, opening Big Ten play against Northwestern at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.