The Ohio State men’s soccer team is back on the pitch Friday to take on the University of South Florida at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeyes (1-3-0) will hope to bounce back after dropping two games last weekend at the Dayton Classic.
“We’re still improving. It’s a long process, so [we’re] really trying to bounce back. I think we were unfortunate not to get at least one win this past weekend,” redshirt senior midfielder Brady Blackwell said. “We played pretty well overall, we just couldn’t put a goal away.”
Head coach Brian Maisonneuve also cited a mix of concussions, injuries and sickness as things that his team is trying to overcome at this stage of the year.
On the other hand, Maisonneuve said these injuries have given some of the younger players on the team a chance to step up.
“The good news is some guys are getting some minutes that will definitely pay off down the road,” Maisonneuve said. “The hard part is we’ve had to shuffle a couple things around, which is part of the game, but, again, we got a pretty young team, so when we have to make those changes, there’s going to be some growing pains.”
South Florida is winless on the year, but Ohio State must caution against taking the Bulls lightly. South Florida’s schedule has played a large role in the team’s record, opening the season with losses to Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Creighton.
The Spartans are ranked third in the nation, according to the United Soccer Coaches Poll. Creighton was ranked 20th at the time of their match with South Florida, but have dropped out of the top 25 this week, while Michigan received votes for a top 25 ranking.
“They’re the best 0-4 team I’ve ever seen in college soccer,” Maisonneuve said. “They’ve been in every game if not outplayed other teams, so they’re going to be the biggest challenge we’ve had so far this year, for sure.”
Senior forward Tomasz Skublak tallied the only goal of the season thus far for the Bulls, scoring in their most recent match against Creighton.
Junior goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares, a native of Australia, has compiled a 1.50 goals against average through their first four matches.
“They’re a good possession team, they’re very mature in what they do, physically they’re soccer strong, if that makes any sense, and they make good decisions,” Maisonneuve said.
As far as assessing his own team, Maisonneuve stressed the feeling of improvement that he and his players have noticed.
“Training’s are better, games are better, our shape is better, our decision making is better, so we’re definitely improving, and they definitely feel it coming,” Maisonneuve said.
Ohio State will face South Florida at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.