The Ohio State men’s soccer team met the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Sunday afternoon in the first of back-to-back home games.
The Buckeyes (1-7-2, 0-3-1) jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead following goals from redshirt freshman forward Devyn Etling and junior midfielder Jack Holland, but the Scarlet Knights mounted a comeback and were able to score three unanswered goals to steal the victory in overtime.
However, this loss isn’t so much about what took place on the field.
Rather, it has much more to do with what happens off of it, inside the locker room and inside the minds of the players and coaches according to the head coach.
“Today wasn’t about the X’s and O’s unfortunately,” Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve said. “It’s more about the confidence that this group needs to get rolling with. We’ve got to unite as a group, and again it’s not necessarily X’s and O’s. It’s everything else that we’re still piecing together.”
“These situations really find out what you’re made of and that perseverance and that culture that we’re building will show. It will show,” Maisonneuve said.
Maisonneuve made it clear he knows the confidence and belief he is seeking exists within his players. The challenge now is to find it.
If this young Ohio State team is to find the success they are hoping to achieve and the growth that they are looking to attain, the head coach said finding that confidence, that belief and that trust may be the most critical part.
“I know it’s in that locker room, just as a group, as a unit we’ve got to bring it out. We’ve got to fight for each other and have each other’s backs,” Maisonneuve said. “We need to know that my teammates, and when I say teammates it’s all of us, coaching staff, [players], all have each other’s backs. So during the good times we’re there, during the bad times we’re there and really believe that the guy next to you will help you if you fall or stumble.”
The opening 45 minutes was at times sloppy, but overall the Buckeyes were effective in all phases of the game.
Defensively, the Buckeyes did not allow the Scarlet Knights to create very many chances as the back line looked to bounce back after an admittedly tough outing earlier in the week at No. 19 Michigan.
17 minutes into the match, the Buckeyes scored their first opening half goal of the season as Etling found the back of the net after redshirt junior midfielder Jake Scheper passed it to sophomore forward Joshua Jackson-Ketchup who subsequently flicked it onto Etling who was able to finish the job.
After saying he had been working on his mindset in practice, Etling said it has helped him lately, scoring two goals in in last four matches.
In the 35th minute, Holland took possession of the ball inside the box and ripped it into the left corner to put the Buckeyes in front 2-0.
The unassisted goal was the first of Holland’s career.
“It feels great. Took me long enough, but I credit the guys. They really made it possible, I just had the easy part just passing it home, so felt really good,” Holland said.
Early in the second half, multiple chances presented themselves to the Buckeyes as they continued to apply pressure on the attack. Twice the ball bounced around in front of the net, but twice the Buckeyes were unable to punch it home.
The match shifted on a dime in the 61st minute when Rutgers junior forward Jordan Hall was able to dribble the ball past redshirt junior goalkeeper Parker Siegfried and into the net when the Ohio State goalkeeper tried to come well out of the net to make the save.
43 seconds later, sophomore forward Miles Franklyn knocked it into the bottom left corner and just like that the Scarlet Knights tied the contest at 2-2.
In overtime, Hall once again found the back of the net for the game winner to cap off the comeback for the Scarlet Knights (2-6-1, 1-3).
Hall now has six goals on the year and finds himself right in the mix for the Big Ten lead in goals.
Ohio State is back in action next Friday when they host Cleveland State in the annual Connor Senn Memorial game.