Only one week into the season, the Ohio State women’s soccer team has become familiar with the Atlantic Coast Conference. As a part of its six-game non-conference schedule, the Buckeyes are scheduled to play their third ACC opponent — No. 4 Virginia Tech — on Sunday.
The Hokies are also set to be the Buckeyes’ third ranked opponent this season, a challenging start to the 2014 campaign.
“We plan these games well in advance, probably two years in advance,” OSU coach Lori Walker said. “I felt that we would have a young team, but a team that needed to have some experience early.”
OSU enters the weekend following a 1-0 loss to then-No. 4 North Carolina last Sunday. The defeat came just two days after the Buckeyes toppled then-No. 18 Duke, 1-0, in their season opener.
Virginia Tech began its season with a pair of shutout victories against Virginia Commonwealth University and Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and the team is scheduled to play Akron on Friday.
Through two games, the Hokies have outscored their opponents 10-0 and allowed only four shots on goal.
The key for OSU will be to crack the Virginia Tech defense and find an offensive rhythm, Walker said.
“Our objective now is really to start building our attack,” she said. “We have to start getting our attack flowing and get a little more dangerous in (the offensive) part of the field.”
OSU could boost its scoring with the possible return of sophomore forward and last year’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Nichelle Prince.
Prince sustained a quadricep injury while representing Canada at the U-20 World Cup with teammate and fellow sophomore forward Lindsay Agnew earlier this month.
The team has had to manage Prince’s recovery from the injury and Agnew’s recovery time after playing extra games at the tournament over the summer, Walker said.
Prince led the Buckeyes with 13 goals and added six assists last season, while Agnew tallied three goals in nine games.
Without Prince in the lineup, OSU has put an emphasis on spreading its attack and stretching the opposing defense, Walker said.
“We’re starting to focus more on combination play and trying to use the width (of the field),” junior midfielder Michela Paradiso said.
In the defending third, OSU aims to maintain consistency in front of redshirt-freshman goalkeeper Megan Geldernick. Geldernick became the starting goalkeeper when junior Jillian McVicker sustained a knee injury during the summer.
In her first collegiate games, Geldernick recorded her first career shutout and had a pair of eight-save performances.
“She’s doing very well communicating with (the defense) and it’s easy for us to play with her,” senior defender Ashley Gruenbaum said. “We can read her very well.”
The Buckeyes have won their past three home openers. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.