The Ohio State women’s soccer team (4-0-1) remained unbeaten on the season, winning its third consecutive home game with a 6-2 victory over South Florida (3-2) at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Sunday evening.
The Buckeyes started off strong with a dominant attack as forward Eleanor Gabriel put the ball in the back of the net off a pass from Arden Holden’s sideline run in the seventh minute. A minute later, Gabriel again sparked the offense as she dribbled away from the goalie in a frantic loose ball play and dished it off to forward Meghan Kammerdeiner who finished the play off, giving Ohio State a quick 2-0 lead.
Following the brief flurry of action, play settled down for a bit as Ohio State maintained possession and controlled the pace of play. But South Florida battled back in the latter part of the first half of play, managing several shots that were saved by the Buckeyes, including a goal that was called back by the side judge due to a Bulls player being offsides.
“Systematically we matched up really well” coach Lori Walker said. “We talked to the players about capitalizing on mistakes that we felt we could create from pressing high.”
The first half ended frantically with forward Lexxe Lipsey striking the ball into the top left corner from just outside the box, giving the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead in the 41st minute.
But the Bulls quickly responded as Ohio State failed to clear a cross from South Florida which led to a quick goal from forward Aubrey Megrath, snapping Ohio State’s 390-minute shutout streak, the longest in six years. The ensuing four minutes were full of action, as USF took two more quality shots, and Ohio State’s Marissa Birzon struck one off the crossbar just before the half ended.
The Buckeyes got off to another fast start in the second half when forward Sammy Edwards put a goal in the right-side netting in the 47th minute off a perfect through-cross by midfielder Nikki Walts. Just a few minutes after, the Buckeyes capitalized again as Gabriel collided with the South Florida goalkeeper, sending the ball loose out to the right side, where midfielder Sarah Roberts connected with a chip shot over the scrambling keeper to give Ohio State the 5-1 lead in the 53rd minute.
For the next 15 minutes, Ohio State maintained control of the game, and scored again in the 68th minute when Walts fired a left-footed laser from 27 yards out on a free kick to the top shelf.
“That kind of came as a surprise,” Walts said. “It was a spur of the moment choice.”
South Florida went on to score a second goal in the 71st minute off a loose ball in the box, and for the rest of the game applied pressure to the Buckeys. Despite the late push, the Bulls were unable to comeback against Ohio State, losing 6-2 despite outshooting the Buckeyes 18-13.
“This game needed to be a team effort”, said Walker.
Ohio State’s next game comes against Notre Dame next Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Bert L. & Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.