Already two exhibition games in, the Ohio State men’s soccer team is ready to start its regular season with two home games as part of the Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic.
One player said the team is doing well so far and hoping to continue in the right direction.
“Everyone came in (to the season) with the right mindset, the right commitment, and we pushed ourselves,” junior midfielder Zach Mason said. “I think we’re in the best shape since I’ve been here, and we’re starting to gel.”
Redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov is expected to carry the bulk of the load between the nets this season after starting 16 games in 2013. He’s following up on a breakout season, in which he posted a 0.76 goals-allowed average, however, Ivanov said he feels he can improve on that this year.
“Just trying to improve on the consistency and get off to a great start, (those) are my key focuses right now,” Ivanov said. “I’m looking to get the rust off and get off to a good start, get that team bonding going on the field with good results.”
The Buckeyes split their two exhibition games. They won the first at home against West Virginia, 2-1, on Aug. 17 before dropping the second to Marquette in Fort Wayne, Ind., 3-2 on Friday.
Coach John Bluem, however, said he is not reading too much into the results of the exhibition matchups.
“It was really just an opportunity to assess our own players,” Bluem said. “We weren’t necessarily looking to win the games, we wanted to just be able to evaluate our guys.”
The Buckeyes’ went 5-8-4 season in 2013 that ended with a 2-0 loss against Michigan State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Mason said he feels confident the team can improve on the factors that held it back in 2013, particularly goal-scoring. OSU was held to just 13 goals in the 18-game season.
“I think we’re trying to make it more of an offense-by-committee, where we’re not relying on one person, and we’re not putting a lot of pressure on one person to score,” Mason said. “I think more so than last year, we have more ways we can try to score, and we’ve really been working on it. The coaches have made that a focal point in training, so I think we’ve definitely addressed that and we’re prepared to improve on last year’s offense.”
Butler University, Canisius College from Buffalo, N.Y., and the University of California-Davis are scheduled to visit Columbus for the tournament. OSU is scheduled to play UC-Davis at 7:30 p.m. on Friday before taking on Butler at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
After the weekend, the Buckeyes are scheduled to play two games at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Classic in Wilmington, N.C., on Sept. 5 and Sept. 7.