In a season derailed by injuries, stagnant offense and mistakes in the defensive zone, the Ohio State men’s soccer team has found itself in an unfavorable position.
Coming into Tuesday night with a 3-9 record, the Buckeyes desperately needed a win to get some confidence back and build momentum leading into the final few games on the schedule.
Like a team with new life, Ohio State took down Oakland University 3-0 with an aggressive offense and all-around confident play.
“We were in a little slump coming into this game,” junior forward Nate Kohl said. “We knew we had to get some goals and we were able to shut them out.”
The Buckeyes never allowed the Golden Grizzlies to settle in, getting on the board in the early goings of the opening period.
In just the 11th minute, junior defender Niall Logue crossed a pass from the far post to find sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed, who was able to give OSU an early 1-0 lead.
With momentum on their side, the Buckeyes had no intentions of allowing Oakland to catch its breath.
A few moments later, in the 14th minute, senior midfielder Ben Fitzpatrick worked a ball down the sideline in the offensive zone and got past his defender, allowing him to cross a ball right in front of the net that Kohl sent past the keeper to give the Buckeyes an early 2-0 lead.
For Kohl, it was his fourth goal of the season.
OSU did not take its foot off the gas even after taking a two score lead. They outshot Oakland 11-3 through the first 45 minutes, and applied relentless defensive pressure making it difficult for the Golden Grizzlies to cross midfield.
As a result, the Buckeyes were able to extend their lead just before halftime.
In the 40th minute, Mohamed struck a free kick from 20 yards out that sliced into the back left corner of the goal to extend the lead to 3-0, his second score of the game and fourth of the season.
“We punished them with the early goals,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “Today we felt like we had the confidence against an Oakland team that we have seen a couple times here before. We aren’t just going to drop deep and defend for 90 minutes. We are going to play. We are better when we play more aggressively.”
The second half was much less action packed, with OSU playing more on the defensive, trying to maintain the three-score lead. The Buckeyes would finish the game with a 14-9 shot advantage.
“If they get an early goal in the second half, now it becomes more complicated,” Bluem said. “You want to make sure the guys understand that they have to continue to play hard. The game isn’t over.”
The Buckeyes will play the second leg of this two game homestand as they resume Big Ten play against No. 9 Indiana on Saturday.
“We proved we can win a game and we can do it again next game, too,” Mohamed said. “We just have to have confidence and play our game. Indiana is a pretty good team. We just have to step up to the plate and compete with them and we will be fine.”