Members of the Ohio State women's soccer team huddles before a game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Credit: Aaron Tomich | Lantern Reporter

Members of the Ohio State women’s soccer team huddles before a game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Credit: Aaron Tomich | Lantern Reporter

The Ohio State women’s soccer team is gearing up for the final act of the season commencing on Saturday. The Buckeyes (10-6-3, 4-4-3 Big Ten) kick off the first round of the NCAA tournament against the Dayton Flyers (9-9-3, 4-4-2 Atlantic 10) at 6 p.m. at Jesse Owens Stadium.

OSU senior defender Bridget Skinner expressed excitement about receiving news of the team’s bid into the NCAA tournament, noting that the Buckeyes are champing at the bit with special motivation and strong anticipation of their matchup against their in-state opponent, the Dayton Flyers.  

“We’re just pretty pumped that we’re at home and get a chance to play them,” Skinner said.  

Coming off of three week’s rest, Skinner took time to discuss the team’s mentality behind the gap between its last game and Saturday’s upcoming match. This included a couple days of physical and mental rest, along with the idea of a fresh start.

“We really did look at it as this completely new season,” she said. “Like, it’s postseason, the regular season happened, and this is a completely new season.”

OSU coach Lori Walker focused on motivating the Buckeyes during the break, as they sat aside during the Big Ten tournament.  

“Everybody else is playing, so as a competitor, you get a very nauseous feeling that you’ve been left out of something,” Walker said.

Walker noted that the team capitalized on the odd feeling of being left out, continuing to emphasize the concept that “winners don’t like to be left out of things,” as extra motivation for Saturday. She said that given Dayton has played three games in four days last weekend, the Buckeyes are focusing on attacking a fatigued Flyers team.

“We know Dayton well.  They’re a really good team,” Walker said.  “They’ve had some success here and there, and at the end of their season, so we’re excited to play them on Saturday.”

OSU senior forward Lindsay Agnew hopes the break from competitive play refocused the team going into Saturday night. Echoing the same team mentality, Agnew looks at this matchup as a new season. In saying that, she and the team as a whole focused on what has been improved all season long.

“We took a couple days off at the beginning to reset and refocus,” Agnew said. “But since then, we’ve been basically just getting back to the basics: goal-scoring, shot-blocking and working on our midfield movements, just all the foundational stuff.”

To take advantage of Dayton’s short rest, Agnew stressed the importance of ball movement and connecting midfielder crosses to forwards, eventually leading to more scoring opportunities.

Dayton poses a threat to the OSU defense with junior forward Alexis Kiehl, who currently sits tied for most goals scored this season in the NCAA with 20.  

Although Kiehl’s numbers are daunting, the Buckeyes’ back-line is prepared to combat a potent offense.

“I think if we stick to this game plan, we’ll be fine,” Skinner said. “And it will be kind of irrelevant that (Kiehl) has scored 20 goals,” Skinner said.