It took two overtimes, but the Ohio State women’s soccer team (10-2-1, 5-1-0 Big Ten) defeated the Michigan State Spartans (5-9-0, 1-6-0 Big Ten) 1-0 Friday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeye fans packing the stands finally got their chance to cheer in the 100th minute as a cross from freshman defender Izzy Rodriguez found senior midfielder Nikki Walts, who smashed the ball along the ground, driving it into the right side of the net to give her team the win.
“It was a great feeling,” Walts said. “I think just for the fact that we dominated a lot of the game and didn’t get our chances, so when we finally did off of that beautiful cross by Izzy and it went in … It was so exciting. We deserved it.”
Ohio State spent the first overtime pushing the ball deep into Michigan State territory, not content to take a draw in the Big Ten matchup. But the Buckeyes couldn’t capitalize on any of its chances in the 10-minute period as the Spartans held strong.
There was a thick tension in the stands as the second overtime began as many former Buckeyes players returned for alumni night and were anxiously hoping for a reason to rise from their seats.
Walts’ game-winner turned the anxiety into jubilation as Ohio State launched itself into first place in the conference with the victory.
Both teams spent the first few minutes of the match looking for a quick goal, as they pushed the ball to the end line and sent crosses into the box without much resistance. Ohio State then looked to take control of the game as it maintained possession on the Michigan State half of the field for the next 10 minutes.
Michigan State responded with two quick attacks that were handled by the Ohio State defense. The Spartans struggled to get the ball back to midfield for the remainder of the half.
As the Spartan defense labored, Ohio State maintained pressure on the Michigan State goal, earning multiple shots on goal in its search to put the Spartans away early. Headers in the 37th and 39th minute by senior defender Morgan Wolcott placed pressure on goalkeeper Savanna Wojtanowski, but didn’t result in a goal for the Buckeyes.
“We got a little frustrated with not being able to score. We talked about staying calm and collected as a team and our time will come, and just focusing on what we do best which is getting end-line and getting the ball across to get a goal.” Walts said.
The offensive pace continued in the second half with an added dose of physicality, and as the game wore on, added tension.
“When we saw someone getting frustrated just letting them know ‘Hey, calm down. Your time is coming,’” Walts said. “Just get them back with your soccer, I think our team really showed that.”
Michigan State built some momentum in the offensive zone before Ohio State regained possession and held onto the ball for much of the remainder of the half, preventing any additional major scoring threats from the Spartans.
The Buckeyes earned seven corners compared to Michigan State’s two.
Ohio State next faces off against Michigan Sunday at noon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.