The No. 15 Ohio State women’s soccer team (11-2-1, 6-1-0 Big Ten) extended its unbeaten streak to five games with a 1-0 win over Michigan (5-4-6, 2-3-3 Big Ten) Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Senior forward Sammy Edwards led the way for the Buckeyes with five shots and a goal.
The Buckeyes had their breakthrough in the 81st minute as senior forward Eleanor Gabriel tore down the right side of the field and crossed the ball in through the penalty area to a streaking Edwards, where the ball was one timed into the back of the net, the lone goal of the game.
The rivalry with Michigan delivered another intense game, as physical play dominated the matchup and it was clear neither team would allow any easy goals.
“Just knowing it’s Michigan I think everyone is a little more hype,” Edwards said. “I definitely come into this game very pumped up and I know it’s across the board.”
Ohio State outshot Michigan 17-4, and Kerr needed to make only one save. The shutout marks Ohio State’s fifth consecutive clean sheet, the longest streak since 2012.
The first half provided a slow, tactical pace from both teams, neither giving the other strong chances at the goal. Most of the half was played around the midfield area as both teams battled back and forth with strong defensive plays.
“It’s definitely a mental battle,” Edwards said. “A win on a Sunday can be hard. We sometimes come out slow just from having dead legs but instead of coming out slow we came out fast and set the tone for the game.”
Possession favored the Buckeyes in the first half, but both teams spent most of the half measuring the defensive style of the other. Ohio State outshot the Wolverines 6-1, despite neither team finding any strong offensive footing.
Michigan’s only shot in the first half came close to finding the back of the net as midfielder Sara Stratigakis sliced into the penalty area and fired a strong shot on goal, which was saved by Ohio State goalkeeper Devon Kerr.
The best chance of the half for the Buckeyes came in the 33rd minute on a corner from midfielder Nikki Walts. The ball slipped out of the pack of players to Edwards, who connected with a shot that sailed just above the crossbar.
The second half began with a much more frantic pace, with Ohio State leading several quick offensive attacks, which resulted in three shots.
Michigan’s best opportunity of the half came on a loose ball play in the 61st minute as a defensive error led to an open lane for midfielder Katie Foug, whose close-range shot flew just over the goal.
The Buckeyes had a prime chance to score in the 74th minute as a grounded cross rolled through the box to Edwards, whose shot hit the left post. Michigan goalkeeper Sarah Jackson dove for the ball and missed as it rebounded off the post right on the goal line, but all Ohio State players could do was watch as the ball was cleared by a Michigan defender.
“We rely on each other,” Edwards said. “You turn to your teammates and realize that you’re not the only tired one, and you’re not alone when you hit the post. We just look to each other when someone messes up, and I think that contributes to our success a lot.”
Ohio State maintained an aggressive play style for the rest of the game, not letting Michigan create many attacks and pelting the Michigan keeper with more shots. Michigan continued trying to apply pressure and equalize, but the patient attack and rigid defense of Ohio State proved too much for the Wolverines.
Ohio State’s next game is Thursday against Big Ten opponent Maryland.