The men’s soccer team takes confidence with it as they head to the University of Tulsa Classic this weekend.
“We’ve got a little bit more (confidence) in ourselves now,” coach John Bluem said.
The Buckeyes split their first two games of the season, falling to University of North Carolina Wilmington, 2-1, in double overtime and beating Northern Illinois, 2-0. They look ahead to their next opponents in the Tulsa Classic but also take away experiences from their first matches.
“Very tough loss… a lot of adversity against us that first night,” Bluem said. “The most positive thing is the way we responded and came back with such a really good effort on Sunday.”
Captain and senior defender Sage Gardner agreed with his coach.
“Sunday helped us gain a little bit of momentum, just confidence,” Gardner said.
Gardner has slowly progressed into helping out the attack while still playing defense. This past weekend he tallied an assist and the lone goal against UNC Wilmington. Gardner said he enjoys the way OSU plays offense.
“I like it a lot — it’s definitely the more glamorous part of the sport,” Gardner said. “I think it makes it more of a complete game for me. It helps me improve on areas I need help on.”
Junior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov takes a little bit of extra confidence into the Classic after being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He had seven saves against UNC Wilmington and recorded six against Northern Illinois, including two penalty kick saves. The shutout against NIU was the first of his career.
“Confident,” Ivanov said. “We’re ready to go, chemistry is building and we’ve been having some good training sessions.”
Tulsa comes in with a 1-1 record and is ranked No. 22 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The Golden Hurricanes lost their first game against then-No. 6 Creighton and won their second game against Drake. Eight starters return from Tulsa’s 2012 team, which went 14-6-1 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, including preseason third-team All-American, sophomore forward Cristian Mata.
Kickoff against Tulsa is set for Friday at 8:30 p.m.
OSU takes on Southern Methodist in their second game of the tournament Sunday at 1 p.m.