The Ohio State men’s soccer team proved why it was No.1 in the Big Ten conference as it defeated Rutgers 4-0 to advance to the Big Ten tournament final.
Freshman midfielder Abdi Mohamed, junior forward Danny Jensen, junior forward Christian Soldat and freshman defender Alex Nichols all found the back of the net on Friday.
OSU improved to 13-5-2 overall, while Rutgers fell to 12-6-1 on the season.
The last time the two teams met, the Scarlet Knights defeated the Buckeyes to end their eight game win streak, but the confidence of the Scarlet and Gray was still at an all-time high as they sought out revenge against Rutgers heading into Friday’s match.
“We told the guys to just play with confidence here,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “Your record here at home and the last 13 games is amazing, so be confident and go out and play hard.”
The Buckeyes extended the program record for consecutive home wins to 10.
With the wind blowing at about 30 mph, it seemed as if the conditions would not be conducive to scoring. But OSU quickly quelled those doubts in the game’s opening minute.
Mohamed scored an early goal within the first minute of the half to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead less than a minute in.
Jensen, who passed the ball to sophomore forward Marcus McCrary, originally set up the play. After the pass from Jensen, McCrary sent across a pass to junior Yaw Amankwa who unselfishly gave up a chance for a goal to give Mohamed the chance to finish it off for the Buckeyes.
Following Mohamed’s goal, Jensen sent in a header to give the Scarlet and Gray a 2-0 advantage in the 20th minute. Sophomore defender Hunter Robertson was credited for the assist.
“Getting those two goals so early kind of crushes the team you’re playing against,” Jensen said. “Even though they’re such a great team, it’s kind of hard to come back from that.”
Rutgers could not manage to score in the first half and were down two goals heading into the locker rooms.
Just like in the first frame, OSU came out firing early on.
Soldat scored his fifth goal of the season within the first minute of the second half. Jensen was credited for the assist.
“The early goals in each half really helped a lot. It calmed our nerves down a little bit,” Bluem said.
Rutgers struggled finding its momentum, but managed to pick up the pace in the second half to try and put a little pressure on the Buckeyes. However, the Scarlet and Gray backline, as well as senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer, held up strong, not allowing the Scarlet Knights to get a point on the board.
With the game already out of reach, Nichols extended it even 87th minute on a strike from beyond the 18-yard box to make the match 4-0. The goal was the first of his collegiate career in just his fifth appearance of the season.
“We scored four brilliant goals today,” Froschauer said. “Nichols with the strike and then we had Abdi’s goal and the other two goals. All four goals were brilliant team goals and it was a big confidence builder and really got us going.”
Overall, shots were only 11-10 in favor of the home team, while Rutgers held just a 5-4 lead in corners.
Froschauer earned his 10th shutout of his lone season in Columbus, while accumulating a total of five saves on the afternoon and improving to 13-5-2 on the season.
The Buckeyes are set to conclude the Big Ten season against No. 3 Maryland in the tournament finals after the Terrapins edged Indiana 3-2 in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.
When the two teams met in Columbus on Halloween, OSU narrowly made it past Maryland 1-0. The rematch is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.