After garnering the No. 9 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and having a first-round bye, the Ohio State men’s soccer team will finally get back out on the pitch against Dayton on Sunday in the second round at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeyes claimed their fourth regular-season Big Ten title in program history in the final game of the regular season against Michigan. They could not add a Big Ten tournament title to their trophy case however, as the Scarlet and Gray fell to Maryland in the championship game.
“Maryland gave us a really physical game that we weren’t really expecting from them after we played them the first time,” junior defender and co-captain Tyler Kidwell said.
Despite OSU’s loss, the Buckeyes will be returning to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row to try and beat Dayton for the second time this season.
The Scarlet and Gray defeated the Flyers on Sept. 25 in a 2-0 game. Although the Buckeyes have already topped Dayton, OSU knows it cannot take its one win lightly.
“We have a psychological advantage having beaten them already this season, but we can’t take anything for granted,” senior defender and co-captain Liam Doyle said. “It’s going to be tough because it’s tournament time. Anything could happen.”
Coach John Bluem said it could be difficult to beat a team the second time around because the opposing team is coming in with a greater motivation to be better than the first time.
“This is the NCAA tournament. It’s almost like a new season in a different season,” Bluem said. “I think you throw that first game out. Our guys are just looking forward to playing in the NCAA tournament again. They’re excited about it and they are ready to go.”
The Buckeyes are expecting the Flyers to come out with intensity and physicality because Dayton will be seeking revenge.
The Scarlet and Gray plan to focus mentally and work on their physicality heading into Sunday’s match.
“NCAA tournament games are always more physical than the rest because it’s win or go home,” Kidwell said.
Senior midfielder and co-captain Zach Mason echoed his teammate, but he said the team the Flyers faced in September is completely different from the one that will be stepping inside the lines on Sunday.
“The season is on the line for both of us, so we’re going to come in ready to fight and win the game,” Mason said. “We did well earlier this year against them, so we’re going to know what to do. We’ve really grown since our first game, so we’re excited about our opportunity.”
Dayton’s first-round victory
The Flyers hosted Oakland in the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they defeated the Grizzlies 4-3 in penalty kicks after the game ended as a 2-2 double-overtime draw on Thursday night.
Oakland scored in both the 8th and 23rd minutes of the game, giving it a 2-0 lead. However, the Flyers managed to score within the final 10 seconds of the first half, leaving the team down only one point.
Dayton leveled the match in the 72nd minute, forcing the game to go into the overtimes.
Neither team could convert in either overtime period, therefore moving the game to a penalty-kick shootout.
Dayton came out on top in penalty kicks when Oakland could not manage to convert its final try.
With the penalty-kick win, the Flyers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
OSU goalkeeper Chris Froschauer has fortified the Buckeyes’ defense all season long, capturing the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year award. When the senior takes the field on Sunday, he will have a little extra motivation, as his opponent is very familiar.
Froschauer spent three seasons in Dayton as the starting goalie for the Flyers before transferring to Columbus for his final collegiate campaign.
“I figured if I wanted to take a chance somewhere else and do something, why not do it now,” Froschauer told The Lantern earlier in the season about the decision to transfer. “I get to play college soccer one time, so I went for it.”
For the Buckeyes, Froschauer has started every game and currently leads the Big Ten in save percentage with .809, while having nine clean sheets to his credit.
The winner between OSU and Dayton will move on to face the winner of Santa Clara and Stanford in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The game is scheduled to be played on either Nov. 28 or 29.