Coming off a 0-0 draw at home against Northwestern on Friday while playing nearly half the game down a man, the Ohio State men’s soccer team (1-5-2, 0-1-1 Big Ten) heads to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Wolverines (5-1-1, 1-0-1 Big Ten) on Tuesday.
Ohio State redshirt senior midfielder Brady Blackwell said even though Ohio State’s battles with Michigan are mostly noted on the gridiron, the rivalry transcends all sports between the two schools.
“I think everyone comes here because they know about the rivalry in football obviously, but I think it carries over to every single sport, so we’re not very fond of them,” Blackwell said. “They don’t really like us very much.”
The Wolverines come into this week ranked No. 21 in the nation, according to the United Soccer Coaches Poll, and are on a six-game unbeaten streak following their only loss of the season, at home to Tulsa on Aug. 24.
Michigan is a team that is both effective and dangerous on offense. The Wolverines have outscored their opponents 15-5 on the season while outshooting them 101-48.
The Wolverines’ attack is spearheaded by sophomore forward Umar Farouk Osman’s four goals and two assists, combined with eight points apiece from junior forward Jack Hallahan and sophomore forward Mohammed Zakyi.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines are just as strong between the pipes, with sophomore goalkeeper Henry Mashburn currently holding a 0.68 goals against average for the season, accompanied by four clean sheets.
“Michigan’s very good this year, very athletic, tough and they get after you,” Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve said. “It’s going to be a battle and we’re going to have to match their fight because you know they’re going to come out a hundred miles per hour.”
Maisonneuve said that a top concern of his is how his players will recover on such short rest following the tough double-overtime battle against the Wildcats Friday night in Columbus.
“The hardest part about double overtime on Friday is we’ve got to turn around and do it on Tuesday, so it’s going to be a really quick turnaround,” Maisonneuve said. “Managing bodies is going to be the No. 1 thing.”
With eight games under their belt, a new coaching staff and system and a whole lot of soccer left to be played, the Buckeyes seem to be settling in.
The defense rebounded from a tough outing at Penn State last weekend to shut out Northwestern on Friday despite being a man down, while the offense played its most effective game of the season last time out.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines are set to play in Ann Arbor at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.