Rainy conditions at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium weren’t the only downside to the Ohio State men’s soccer team’s loss Wednesday.
The No. 5-ranked Louisville Cardinals, which ended OSU’s season a year ago in the NCAA tournament, snapped the Buckeyes’ 12-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win. An 82nd minute goal from Louisville redshirt senior midfielder Kenney Walker gave the Cardinals the score they needed to come out on top.
Louisville entered the game averaging 2.33 goals per game, but the first half of the game was a defensive battle.
Louisville controlled the ball for most of the first half, but OSU junior goalie Matt Lampson was up to the task, making five saves in the half.
The Cardinals attempted nine shots to OSU’s four in the first half.
“(Matt) had a lot to do tonight,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “He handled everything that was thrown at him very well.”
Junior midfielder Chris Hegngi stopped the Cardinal’s shooting streak, putting a shot slightly outside of the net with just under 11 minutes left in the first half.
It was the only Buckeye shot-on-goal of the first half.
At the 40-minute mark in the second half, Hegngi found OSU freshman forward Kenny Cuningham just feet from the net.
Cunningham’s header brought the crowd to its feet, but his effort glanced off the crossbar and the game remained scoreless.
“I saw it in the air and put my head on it,” Cunningham said. “I thought it was going in, but it was about six inches, maybe a foot from the line.”
Inside the 37-minute mark of the second half, Cardinals senior forward Colin Rolfe put a shot on goal that appeared to be destined for the back of the net.
But Lampson came up big, diving to ground just far enough to make a one handed stop and leaving the game tied.
With 8:24 left in the contest, a Louisville throw-in was kicked around OSU’s penalty area and eventually made its way to Walker.
Walker cracked a shot through the crowd of Buckeyes and Cardinals and the ball rolled by Lampson, giving the Cardinals the 1-0 lead.
Hegngi got a wide open shot with under a minute left, but the ball sailed wide left.
“It was really close… I just tried to get it to the post,” Hegngi said. “It was like an inch away. I’m really sorry I couldn’t score there.”
The Cardinals went on to win, 1-0.
“We know how we can play,” Cunningham said after the game. “We know we can go against anyone in the country.”
Bluem said it was unfortunate that his team couldn’t score in the contest, saying, “If Cunningham scores five minutes into the second half on the header that hits the crossbar and we go up 1-0, then we make life very difficult for them.”
On Sunday, the Buckeyes open Big Ten conference play at Michigan. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.