The nation’s top-ranked Akron Zips men’s soccer team looks to extend its 11-game shutout streak Wednesday when it visits No. 23 Ohio State for a match in which the Buckeyes are the underdogs.
“We got nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a good result in this game,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “The pressure is all on their team.”
The Buckeyes (5-2-1) are hoping to parlay last Wednesday’s scoreless tie with No. 8 Louisville and Saturday’s 1-0 win at Michigan into momentum heading into tonight’s game and the upcoming Big Ten schedule.
“It’s a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country and measure yourself against them,” Bluem said. “At the end of the year, if you want to be a Big Ten Champion or an NCAA Tournament participant, this is what you’re going to face,” Bluem said.
Despite their shutout streak, the Zips’ defense doesn’t match up with their offense, defender Matt Gold said.
“Someone always told me that the best defense is offense and that sums it up pretty well,” he said. “They are all very technical, talented and smart players.”
Bluem said that in order to end Akron’s shutout streak, OSU must concede space defensively while using more defenders with the hope of being able to capitalize on counter attacks.
Gold said Akron normally controls the ball for 70 percent of the game, which means opposing teams rarely get opportunities to score.
“We just have to exploit their weaknesses,” midfielder Sam Scales said. “If they make a mistake we really have to take advantage of it, especially in the back, we got to counter and finish our chances.”
The recent play of goalkeeper Matt Lampson might afford OSU’s defense to play more aggressively.
Monday, Lampson received the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades for his shutout efforts against Louisville and Michigan. He had 11 saves in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“He was at his very best against Michigan,” Bluem said. “He had a great performance and he’s going to need to have a similar performance for us to be successful against Akron.”
Kickoff against Akron is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.