Ohio State’s women’s soccer team bounced back from its first loss of the season with the fourth-most goals in team history as the Buckeyes opened Big Ten play defeated Illinois 7-0 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Thursday evening.
Midfielders Riley Bowers and Sarah Roberts led the way for Ohio State, each netting two goals. Bowers’ two goals were the first of the freshman’s career. Forward Eleanor Gabriel, forward Sammy Edwards and defender Marike Mousset also scored one goal apiece.
The Buckeyes (6-1-1, 1-0) controlled all aspects of the game, dominating possession and outshooting the Illini (3-6, 0-1) 17-6 en route to their most goals against a Big Ten opponent in program history. Ohio State also had six corners, as opposed to the Illini’s one.
The Buckeyes have won all six games this season when scoring the first goal, and they did so very early. In just the second minute, co-captain midfielder Nikki Walts guided a through ball into the box, where Roberts won the ball from an Illinois defender and beat the goalkeeper, delivering a shot in the left side netting to open the scoring.
Just 11 minutes later, Ohio State was able to put another one up on the board as defender Izzy Rodriguez delivered a fabulous cross directly in front of the goal, where Roberts again was there to connect for the finish, her second goal of the day and third of the year, to put Ohio State up 2-0.
In the 24th minute, Roberts once again spurred the action as she delivered a through pass to the edge of the box. Gabriel collided with Illini goalkeeper Jaelyn Cunningham and a defender, but was the only player left standing and calmly put the ball in the net for the third Ohio State goal of the evening.
The fourth and final goal of the first half came off the foot of Bowers, a freshman, as she launched a shot from outside the box that sailed over Illinois’ keeper and into the net in the 41st minute. This was the first goal of Bowers’ collegiate career.
“It was one of the most exciting things that I’ve probably done in my life. I didn’t expect it in the first game of the Big Ten but we were really playing together and my teammates got the ball to me in good spots and gave me the space for my opportunities, and I put them home,” Bowers said.
The second half began similarly to the first. In the 54th minute, Walts made a run into the box before dishing it off her back heel for Mousset, who found the back of the net with a left foot finish.
The Buckeyes slotted another in the 68th minute on a hectic play in the box as midfielder Arden Holden crossed a corner kick into the box, where Rodriguez found Edwards for Ohio State’s sixth goal of the night.
The offense continued late into the game for the Buckeyes, as midfielder Maddy Lowe found an open Bowers outside the box who fired another shot into the top left corner to beat Cunningham in the 83rd minute for Ohio State’s seventh and final goal of the night.
It was clear Ohio State was still stinging from their tough 1-0 loss against St. Joseph’s Sunday, its only loss of the season.
“I love my team’s response to their first loss of the year, which is to come out and just be clinical in front of the goal,” coach Lori Walker-Hock said. “Today I think we regained our flow. We regained some composure in front of the net and we were able to play almost our entire roster which is awesome.”
Ohio State looks ahead to more Big Ten competition as they play the Northwestern Wildcats (3-4-1) at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.