The Ohio State men’s soccer team enters the Big Ten tournament this Sunday at 1 p.m., as they take on Wisconsin in the quarterfinals.
The rematch in Madison will come just one week after the Buckeyes fell to the Badgers 2-1 in the final match of the regular season.
“We have a week to prepare and talk about how we can do things differently but so do they,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “They won, so are they going to be overconfident? Are we going to have more motivation since we lost up there? It’s an interesting problem for both teams.”
The Badgers were aggressive last time against the Buckeyes, outshooting OSU 15-3 in the opening period and taking a 2-0 lead as a result.
The second half seemed to flip the field, as OSU outshot Wisconsin 12-4 and closed the gap by scoring a late goal.
“Statistically, we outshot them and out-possessioned them and all that in the second half,” Bluem said. “For 25 minutes we had a man advantage, and that really gave us the opportunity to take over the game. Unfortunately, we were only able to come up with the one goal.”
Wisconsin finished the season with a 10-3-3 record (4-2-2 Big Ten). They outscored their opponents 25-12 on the year, with an 8-0-1 record in Madison.
The Badgers are led by midfielder Christopher Mueller. The junior Illinois-native has scored a team-high six goals through the team’s 16 games. Mueller also leads his team in assists with 10.
Despite the wound remaining fresh from the recent defeat at the hands of Wisconsin, the Buckeyes are excited for the rematch.
“Outside of our lackadaisical start, we really took it to them,” senior forward Christian Soldat said. “It was a real hard-fought game between two teams. It always feels great to get revenge on their field and knock them out and hopefully advance to the semifinals.”
The team knows its only chance at making the NCAA tournament is to win the Big Ten tournament. For the seniors especially, they do not want the season to end this weekend.
“Nobody wants it to be your last game,” senior forward Danny Jensen said. “Right now, a lot of it is on the shoulders of the seniors. We are the old guys who have been through it all. If the seniors step up, I think we should be pretty good.”
The Buckeyes have won the Big Ten tournament three times (2000, 2007, 2009). They have an overall record of 18-20-2 in their 25 appearances in the tournament.
OSU earned the No. 1 seed in last year’s tournament, advancing to the championship match before falling to Maryland 2-0 in Columbus.
While this year’s team may not have had the type of season they had hoped, earning them the sixth seed, the Buckeyes are still extremely confident they have what it takes to win the championship.
“There is no doubt that we have a chance to win this tournament,” Soldat said. “We have played every single game close to the chest and have had a chance to win every single game. With this team fighting hard and getting players back from injury, there is no doubt that we can make a run all the way and win.”