Big Ten conference play is set to begin in Columbus on Thursday evening as the No. 20 Ohio State women’s soccer team is scheduled to host the Minnesota Gophers at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
On Sunday afternoon, the Buckeyes are slated to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in game two of Big Ten play.
The Buckeyes enter Thursday’s tilt at 5-1-1 on the season.
OSU suffered its first loss of the season last weekend to West Virginia, but junior forward Nichelle Prince said she thinks the loss to the Mountaineers was a learning lesson for the team as it prepares to tackle the second half of its season.
“I think it just made us realize that we still have a lot to work on,” Prince said. “We did have a good out-of-conference season but there is still a lot we need to do if we want to become Big Ten Champions and make it far into NCAAs.”
Walker also said that, despite having just one loss, it is clear that the team has work to do.
“There is a fine line in encouraging your players to be decision-makers and also getting them to play in symphony,” Walker said.
The team’s strong start has come despite suffering a few injuries, but OSU coach Lori Walker said the Scarlet and Gray were prepared to handle those type of setbacks.
“Any time a player gets injured it certainly changes your dynamic,” Walker said. “It’s one of those things we talk about in preseason, is that the starting line up at the beginning of the year, is never going to be the same at the end of the year. We try and get our players to think in those terms, and know they are always one ankle sprain away from having a role change. You just roll with it at this point in the season.”
Walker said that with conference play now starting, the team will “reset” itself after seven hard-fought matches to start 2015.
“Our record right now in the conference is 0-0-0, and so we’re perfect and that’s awesome,” she said. “We want to go into the conference play with that mentality of just getting after it with a clean slate.”
Although the Buckeyes have a clean slate, Walker knows it might not stay that way for long due to the quality of teams in their conference.
“There’s never an easy game in the Big Ten, and it becomes a real grind,” she said. “Just taking them one at a time as they come, and every team presents a different set of problems and we just have to be ready to play chess.”
The Buckeyes are 4-1-0 at home and look to keep that success at home against the Gophers and Badgers.
For that to continue, Walker said it will depend on the team’s attention to detail.
“The little details add up to the big ones. Soccer is a thinking woman’s game and we want our players to be able to dissect what is the team doing, but while they’re doing that they can’t lose track of what the littlest details are,” she said.
The Buckeyes and the Gophers are set to square off at 7:30 p.m., while the Badgers are scheduled to come to town for a noon match.