A record-setting crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium saw the No. 19 Ohio State men’s soccer team shock the nation’s top ranked Akron squad with a game-tying goal with only three seconds left in regulation.
The heated intrastate rivalry game included multiple skirmishes, a red card and no shortage of drama as the shorthanded Buckeyes escaped with a 2-2 tie.
“This team has a strong belief and they don’t quit,” coach John Bluem said. “I’m so proud of our team, the way they played tonight. Going a man down, continuing to battle and to be rewarded with a goal that late is a great sign for us that justifies the work and justifies the effort.”
After being down 2-1 with three seconds to play, David Tiemstra scored the game-tying goal when the desperate Buckeyes elected to play two forwards and only three defenders after giving up the go-ahead goal with 22 minutes to play.
“Unbelievable, there’s no other feeling I can describe or I’ve ever felt in my life besides that. Unbelievable,” Tiemstra said.
The late switch in game plan worked out, said Austin McAnena, who scored for OSU in the first half.
“It shows that we can attack, too,” he said. “We were sitting back, but we switched it to three backs and put two up top and started attacking and pressuring them because they had so much time.”
The 7,255 fans were an all-time record for OSU soccer and added electricity to an already gripping contest.
“Besides scoring the goal, it was the best feeling ever,” Tiemstra said of the attendance. “Even when the away fans are so loud, you’re talking about the extra 10 percent on the field, that’s coming from everyone (in the stands). We get those chills that everyone hears about.”
With the game tied at one early in the second half, Konrad Warzycha was called for a foul and kicked the ball out of frustration. It drilled Akron’s Dalington Nagbe in the head, causing his teammates to confront Warzycha, and a skirmish ensued.
Warzycha was given a red card and the Buckeyes were forced to play a man down for the rest of the game.
Shortly thereafter, Akron’s Darren Mattocks scored to make it 2-1, leading to Bluem’s change in scheme.
“I think the guys just really, the last 30 minutes, we got into an aggressive mode when we were defending most of the game and I think that really caught them by surprise.”
Coming into Wednesday, Akron had tied the all-time NCAA record for posting 11 consecutive shutouts.
“We wanted to play to win,” McAnena said. “We didn’t want to sit back against these guys.”
A shorthanded tie against the nation’s top team bodes well for the Buckeyes heading into the start of conference play Sunday against Michigan State. But Bluem made sure not to underscore the importance of getting a head start in the Big Ten standings.
“You live and breathe for your conference,” he said. “Our guys have set a goal for themselves to finish as high as they can in the conference standings and that means getting as many points as we can at home.”
When asked if he expected a result like this, with no hesitation, Bluem said, “Yes.”
“All the drama that went on, well no, I guess I didn’t expect that.”