Aly Mizesko / Lantern photographer
Ohio State men’s soccer came up short against No. 2-ranked Akron, but the Buckeyes made the Zips work hard for the win.
The Buckeyes (6-9-1, 0-4-0 Big Ten), coming off a 2-1 victory against Wright State, were undone by Reinaldo Brenes’ 52nd-minute goal and lost to Akron, 1-0, Tuesday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Brenes, a junior midfielder and defender, helped run the Zips’ (12-1-2, 5-0 MAC) current winning streak to nine games.
Despite the loss, this game didn’t feel like a defeat for the team.
“We had a good game tonight,” said OSU coach John Bluem. “I think it was one of our best games of the year.”
After a scoreless first half, the Buckeyes came into the second half ready and took the game to the Zips with some early chances.
“We played really well defensively in the first half, we gave up very few chances,” said OSU junior captain Sage Gardner. “And once again in the second half we didn’t give up many chances, except for that one unlucky bounce.”
That one bounce was the deciding factor for the game - Brenes’ struck for Akron for the only goal of the night.
Although the Buckeyes have struggled defensively this season, Bluem said the team followed the game plan and did exactly what it intended.
“We weren’t sure we could score against them, although we had plenty of chances,” Bluem said.
Plenty of chances indeed – OSU took 14 shots in the game, and 10 of those came in the second half.
“I’m real, real happy with our team, it was a great effort by all of them,” Bluem said. “I’m honestly surprised we didn’t get a goal.”
The Zips came in to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium with only one loss in the season, and sophomore defender Alex Bechtol said the Buckeyes tried their best to make that two.
“I mean, we came out and matched the second-ranked team in the country,” Bechtol said. “I think we could have won the game. (Senior defender) Chris Gomez had two phenomenal chances, and if we had converted those we could have won.”
Bluem said he thinks this near miss will motivate his team throughout the end of the regular season and into the postseason.
“We know we can play with really good teams, I just hope we can move forward from here,” Bluem said.
“Our salvation could be the Big Ten Championship,” Bluem said. “We could go to that tournament, put three good games together and win it, and then go on to the NCAA tournament.”
Overall, Bluem said the team had great effort on both sides of the ball, and hopes a continued positive attitude motivates the teams will to win.
Gardner agreed that efforts were made, but missed opportunities can’t be ignored.
“It’s heartbreaking, because I think we could have easily had three goals,” Gardner said. “I thought the chances we had were pretty quality.”
The Buckeyes only have one more game at home before the postseason begins, but that isn’t keeping them down.
“We’re hugely motivated right now,” Bechtol said. “We have such a positive outlook going into Penn State and then having our final home game here against Wisconsin, we’re going to be really motivated by this performance.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to State College, Pa., to play Penn State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.