The Ohio State men’s soccer team celebrated senior night before — and during — its game Tuesday night.
Two seniors connected for a first-half score, as the Buckeyes (7-5-4, 4-2-0) drew even with No. 16 Kentucky (9-3-4) on the way to a 1-1 tie at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“I definitely wish we had gotten a ‘W’ there, but a point is a point, and we need every point right now,” senior midfielder Yianni Sarris, who assisted on OSU’s lone goal, said. “I shouldn’t say I’m happy right now, but I’ll definitely take it.”
Before the match, seven seniors were recognized on the field – goalkeepers Alex Ivanov and Andrian McAdams, defenders Konrad Kucharski and Zach Dobey and midfielders Sarris, Max Moller and Ryan Ivancic.
“It’s always great to be here with our teammates and family, and thank them for all their support,” Ivancic said.
Kentucky opened up the scoring in the 20th minute when junior midfielder Bryan Celis bounced a pass high over Ivanov’s head. Freshman forward Stefan Stojkovic then had no one standing in his way to poke in his second goal of the season.
Stojkovic’s goal marked the first time OSU has trailed in its last four games — lastly in a 2-1 loss to Indiana on Oct. 12.
However, that deficit was short-lived, as Ivancic held his own senior night festivities by tying the game about six minutes later. He took a feed from fellow senior Sarris and dribbled the ball around a Kentucky defender, firing a shot that deflected off the goalkeeper’s hand and rolled in for his first goal of the season.
“It felt like high school again,” Ivancic said, referencing his and Sarris’s time together at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland.
The goal — the fourth of Ivancic’s OSU career in his second season after walking on last year — also extended Sarris’ team lead in points with his 14th.
“It’s been way too long for me to get a goal,” Ivancic said. “I’ve been playing a lot of minutes, and I needed to be a little bit more productive, so I’m glad it finally came.”
At the half, shots were knotted up at four apiece, though Kentucky held a 2-1 edge in shots on goal.
One of the best chances for the Buckeyes to take the lead in the second half came in the 73rd minute, when sophomore forward Danny Jensen bounced a header that took just about all of Kentucky junior goalkeeper Callum Irving’s 6-foot-1-inch frame to snag out of the air.
Kentucky then responded with a hard shot by Stojkovic about a minute later, but Ivanov sprawled out for a diving stop to keep the game tied.
The Buckeyes’ last chance to avoid overtime came with about two minutes left, when freshman forward Marcus McCrary boomed a kick from the top of the box that Irving knocked away.
“(McCrary) had a really good shot, got it on target, but their goalkeeper did a really good job with it,” OSU coach John Bluem said.
Although the teams got off five shots each in the two overtime periods, none represented a legitimate scoring threat. A last-second rush led by Sarris was broken up, and the game ended with the score still tied.
OSU had not played in extra time since Sept. 7 when it beat Elon, 1-0. Its first four games of the season went to overtime, but the Buckeyes had finished every game in regulation since.
“I definitely don’t miss overtime,” Sarris said. “That’s one thing that I definitely don’t like, but if you have to do it to get a point, I’ll do it.”
Every senior except for McAdams saw some action Tuesday night, with Kucharski and Dobey checking in as substitutions in the second half.
“We wanted to try to play all the seniors,” Bluem said. “We would’ve liked to play Andrian, but we felt making sure that we got a win in the game tonight was important, so that was a tough one, and I feel badly for Andrian that he didn’t get to play.”
For the game, OSU and Kentucky were even in total shots at 15 each and shots on goal with four each.
OSU is set to begin a regular season-ending two-game road trip beginning in College Park, Md., on Saturday against Maryland. That game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The Buckeyes are scheduled to finish their season on Nov. 5 against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.