After a cancellation against their rival Michigan Wolverines last weekend, the Ohio State women’s soccer team is looking to get back on their feet as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in the team’s final game of the 2017 spring season.
With an intense few months of training and a number of exhibition games already under their belts, the Buckeyes are working to solidify the skills they have been building upon throughout this spring season, head coach Lori Walker said. However, there are a couple of lingering concerns that remain on both the offensive and defensive end of the ball.
“We’ve got to have a little more presence from our mid-field as far as their ability to be dangerous in their shooting and looking at the goal more,” Walker said. “The biggest thing for us, though, is to really tidy up what’s happening in the back. We gave up way too many goals this past year, and if we can tighten that up, we’re certainly producing enough to win games.”
The team has been struggling to fill certain roles that were left vacant at the conclusion of the 2016 season as their five graduating seniors departed, which has proven to be an especially difficult adjustment on the attacking end. Two of the five departing seniors, Lindsay Agnew and Nichelle Pierce, both now playing professionally, were the Buckeyes’ top goal scorers last season.
With the absence of Agnew and Pierce up top, the transition has been tough for the group as they struggle to make it past the goalkeeper.
“I feel like our biggest weakness is just putting the ball in the back of the net,” senior Sammy Edwards said. “We’ve been building so well and our defense has been strong, and then we get all the way up the field and we just can’t seem to finish and put the game away.”
However, OSU may have more of an opportunity to enhance their attacks and find the back of the net this weekend, since Pitt has lost four graduating seniors as well, including their starting goalkeeper Taylor Francis, and defender Siobhan McDonough who contributed on the attack as well.
The concern that remains is keeping a solid defensive line since Pitt will also have a number of dynamic attacking players. Panthers forwards Taylor Pryce and Ohio-native Sarah Krause could pose a threat to the Buckeyes’ defense who are going to need to tighten up, track and shut down these players, Walker said.
Though the spring has brought along some challenges on both sides of the ball for the Buckeyes, they believe they have made improvements that will continue to benefit them as they prepare for the upcoming fall season, Edwards said.
“I think we’re actually farther along in our process of where we want to be,” Edwards said, “and I think that’s going to be very beneficial as we go into the fall season because we have to train 13 new freshmen coming in, and if we’re all on the same page, it’ll be much easier to bring them into it.”
The team is hoping for a smooth transition between the conclusion of the spring season and the beginning of summer training when the team, including the incoming freshman, arrive back on campus in June to take on summer school and work with the Buckeyes’ strength coach Tyler Carpenter before pre-season training officially begins.
“They’ll get a little time off before preseason, and then we’ll hit the ground running on the first of August,” Walker said.
The Buckeyes will wrap up the 2017 spring season Saturday at Pitt’s Ambrose Urbanic Field at 11:30 a.m.