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Women’s Soccer: Ohio State outlasts, defeats Western Michigan Broncos 2-0

Western Michigan goalie Stephanie Heber saves a shot from Ohio State senior forward Eleanor Gabriel (8) in the first half of the Buckeyes’ 2-0 win over the Brocos on Sept. 1. Credit: Mac Connor | Lantern Reporter

The Ohio State women’s soccer team (3-0-1) earned its second straight home win with a 2-0 victory over Western Michigan (2-1) at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Friday night. Goals from forwards Meghan Kammerdeiner and Marissa Birzon propelled the team to victory.

The game started off with a frantic pace, leading to many changes of possession in the center of the pitch. Forward Sammy Edwards provided the only early excitement five minutes into the game, forcing Western Michigan goalie Stephanie Heber to make a full extension save.

The Buckeye offense found its footing 10 minutes into the game, applying pressure on the Western Michigan defense throughout the first half with sound passing and a frenzy of through balls and corners. Even when the Broncos moved the ball to midfield, the Buckeyes quickly regained possession, dominating possession in an effort to make Western Michigan midfielder Grace Labadie’s early shot the only one on goal.

“Our team works really hard with the no-shot mentality”, said goalie Devon Kerr earlier this week. “Clean sheets are like really important for us this year, so that’s been huge.”

The Western Michigan Broncos managed another shot by the end of the half, but were outshot by the Buckeyes 12-2 in the half. Ohio State also earned three corners, compared to Western Michigan’s zero.

The teams went into halftime in a 0-0 draw, hoping the warmth of the locker rooms would provide a needed energy boost on the cold night.

There was a visible adjustment period to the 30-degree weather drop this morning as the Buckeyes came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders to kick off the second half.

“We have this saying called, ‘Control the controllable,'” Kammerdeinger said. “We don’t have control of the weather obviously, so we’re going to come in and take care of business of what we do have.”

The second half started much like the end of the first, with the Buckeyes holding possession and earning a quick corner kick. The Broncos started a strong push 20 minutes into the half, earning a quality shot on goal and their first corner. The Buckeyes struggled to manage the corner, leading to another shot, which left the ball helplessly bouncing in front of the net until goalie Devon Kerr managed to gain control.

Western Michigan continued to press over the next 15 minutes, applying steady pressure on the Buckeyes’ defense and doubling up their shot total in a matter of minutes.

Ohio State responded by pushing the ball hard to the end line, earning a series of crosses culminating in a goal in the 69th minute from Kammerdeiner. Midfielder Nikki Walts provided the perfect cross landing the ball softly in the box for Kammerdeiner to finish it home and give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead.

“What helped us a lot, was that we have a lot of variety,” Kammerdeiner said earlier this week. “We have players that are able to play different types of balls and behind, get end line and change it up based on what the defense is showing us, and we can do that on the fly which has helped us a lot.”

This versatility of the team proved fruitful in keeping the ball on the Western Michigan end the majority of the match, eventually leading to a Kammerdeiner score.

The Buckeyes didn’t take long to add to their lead. Defender Izzy Rodriguez showed a bit of her ability to play the whole field in sending a curving cross landing right at the feet of forward Marissa Birzon. Birzon then chipped the ball high over goalie Stephanie Heber, who could only get her fingertips on the ball as it spun into the goal to give Ohio State a 2-0 lead.

After the game Kammerdeiner said the versatility of the team she talked about earlier in the week helped lead to Friday’s win.

“I think it’s just amazing how much depth we have on our team,” Kammerdeiner said. “We can have these freshman come in against everyone else’s rest and they’re just as good as us. They’re pushing us everyday to get better, and it really drives our team forward.”

Although the Buckeyes held a comfortable lead, they continued to apply the pressure through the end of the match. Never appearing satisfied with the lead they held, Ohio State continued racking up shots and opportunities while trying to complete the clean sheet the team has placed such high value on.

Ohio State outshot Western Michigan 19-7 and allowed just four shots to reach Kerr in net. The team has yet to allow a goal since the 30th minute of their opening match against Arizona State, making it 330 minutes since an opponent has scored.

The Buckeyes’ next game is against South Florida Saturday at 6 p.m. at Bert L. & Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

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