In its match against Penn State a week ago, the Ohio State men’s soccer team allowed a goal in the very first minute that took the wind out of the sails.
Since that early deficit, the Buckeyes have looked like a team that wants to avoid slow starts at all costs.
For the second straight game, OSU got on the board early and did not look back.
On the strength of a three-goal performance by senior forward Danny Jensen, OSU took down the Valparaiso Crusaders 4-1, improving to 3-5 with two straight victories.
Just five minutes into the match, senior forward Christian Soldat launched a cross from the left side of the pitch that found Jensen, who was able to head the ball past the goalkeeper to give OSU an early 1-0 lead.
“Danny had a great game. It really got us going in the first half,” said coach John Bluem. “His energy was tremendous.”
Jensen, OSU’s active leader in points, recorded his first career hat trick with goals coming in the fifth, 13th, and 50th minute. It was the first hat trick by an OSU player since 2012.
“Honestly balls were just bouncing my way,” said Jensen. “Touches that were just ending up on my foot. I guess luck is on my side today. I am going to go buy a lottery ticket.”
After tallying seven points against the Crusaders, Jensen moved up to eighth on the Buckeyes all-time scoring list.
Jensen led the team last season with 18 points (six goals, six assists), earning a second team All-Big Ten selection.
Soldat finished with two assists in the match and Jensen would add an assist of his own on Ohio State’s fourth goal, coming from junior forward Nate Kohl.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Parker Siegfried made six saves for the Scarlet and Gray.
Since their 0-4 start, the Buckeyes have started to heat up. OSU is 3-1 over its last four games, averaging 2.5 goals per game over the stretch.
“Our game is starting to get a little bit better,” said Bluem. “These last two games I have felt more comfortable about our attacking play and I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with us defensively as well.”
The win meant a little extra on Wednesday night, as the game honored the late Connor Senn, a former OSU soccer player. On Sept. 26, 2001, Senn collapsed on the field during a match against Akron. He died shortly thereafter from a congenital heart defect.
“It was super special,” Siegfried said. “I grew up in Granville, Ohio where Connor Senn grew up too. His statue is outside my high school’s soccer stadium. I’ve always looked forward to playing this game and honoring him.”
Donations to the Connor Senn Memorial Fund were accepted before the game. The fund helps sponsor a fully endowed scholarship at Ohio State and provides an educational symposium on sudden cardiac arrest.
The Buckeyes will look to make it three wins in a row when they take on the Bowling Green Falcons on the road this Saturday at 7 p.m.