Following a visit Friday morning by American soccer goalkeeper Tim Howard, the Ohio State men’s soccer team (1-5-2) played Northwestern (4-2-2) to a scoreless overtime draw Friday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“That was unbelievable, everyone looks up to Tim Howard. He’s a goalkeeper but I think even field players look up to him,” fifth-year senior midfielder Brady Blackwell said. “One of the best American players we’ve seen, so everyone was amazed to see him, and really liked his message. He just told everyone to work hard, believe in your dreams and grind everyday.”
Ohio State seemed to use Howard’s advice in Friday night’s game against Northwestern.
The Buckeyes were forced to traverse the final 58 minutes of regulation and overtime with one fewer player than the Wildcats after redshirt freshman forward Devyn Etling was handed a red card after going after the ball along the near sideline in the 52nd minute.
The subsequent resilience shown by the team was encouraging for head coach Brian Maisonneuve.
“Being down a man for a majority of the game, that’s a win for sure, so we can take a lot out of that in terms of effort, fight, and, again, we still created stuff going the other way, so there’s a lot to take out of this one,” Maisonneuve said.
Though the stat sheet will not show offensive dominance – Ohio State only managed two shots on goal for the entirety of the match – the Buckeyes controlled possession thanks to a combination of improved spacing and crisp passing through the midfield.
“The best thing about the possession was as we went forward we didn’t leave ourselves susceptible in the back,” Maisonneuve said. “Soccer is a game of transition, so even as you go forward, you’ve got to be aware when the ball turns, you’re not giving to get and I thought our shape as we attacked was much much better.”
The Ohio State defense also had a strong opening half as they fought off five Northwestern corner kicks in a scoreless 45 minutes.
Overall, the Wildcats and Buckeyes were almost even in terms of shots during the match, with Northwestern outshooting the Buckeyes 9-8. Both teams managed just two shots on goal, despite Northwestern also gaining a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks.
The second half opened in controversial fashion with Etling receiving a red card. The play was reviewed and the call stood.
The final 38 minutes of regulation ticked away as Ohio State stood its ground, and limited the Northwestern attack while creating chances of its own, as the match headed to overtime.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Parker Siegfried came up with a clutch save in the 93rd minute to keep the game scoreless.
“To fight against a good Northwestern team, and as you said we created as many chances [as Northwestern did], I think shots were close to even but a lot of our opportunities were wide service and chances that weren’t corner kicks or shots, but were really good dangerous attacks,” Maisonneuve said.
Seven Buckeyes played all 110 minutes of the match, and will now have to turn their attention towards recovering for Tuesday’s upcoming match against Michigan, in Ann Arbor.
Ohio State will take on Michigan in Ann Arbor on Tuesday at 7 p.m.