“Play like Connor today.”
The motto has greeted generations of Ohio State soccer players, standing as a constant reminder that the program is more than just the X’s and O’s. The motto greeted Brian Maisonneuve as he took over for former head coach John Bleum prior to the start of the 2018 season.
Connor Senn’s legacy still lives on.
Friday marks the 17th annual Connor Senn Memorial Match for the Ohio State men’s soccer team. Ohio State will take on Cleveland State in a match that serves to honor the memory of the former Buckeye soccer player, who died in 2001.
Senn played on the team as a freshman walk-on. The Buckeyes traveled to the University of Akron on Sept. 26, 2001; during the course of that night’s match, Senn collapsed on the field.
Senn died later that night: the result of a congenital heart defect that was nearly impossible to detect at the time.
Honoring Senn’s memory is a tradition that has carried on from generation to generation of Buckeye players and coaching staffs.
“That type of legacy is in the locker room,” Maisonneuve said. “His magnet is still up in the locker and what he stood for is something that we want this program to stand for. So it was a no brainer. Keep it going. I met with Lance, his dad, and it means a lot to this program, and the stamp that Connor has left on this program is huge.”
Even though Senn’s tragic death came almost two decades ago, he has remained an important part of each and every Ohio State squad to take the field in the years since. Even for the current crop of Buckeyes, it is evident that they know not only who he was, but how important it is to everyone involved with the Ohio State men’s soccer program that they continue to honor him.
It’s a match that has additional meaning for Ohio State redshirt junior goalkeeper Parker Siegfried, as he grew up just down the street from the Senn family.
“It’s a really cool thing for me because I grew up about 10 houses from where the Senns grew up in Granville, so it’s always meant a lot and he’s kind of been a name that I’ve known since I was a kid,” Siegfried said. “It’s always an awesome night for the team and the program.”
Fifth-year midfielder Brady Blackwell said this match is always a special one for the team and something that it takes pride in.
“We all know who he was and what happened so I think it’s a little extra incentive to play hard and not take anything for granted,” Blackwell said. “Coach Bluem, before he left, or retired, he really instilled in us how important this match was to the program and what it meant, so we take it serious.”
Following his death, Senn’s father set up the Connor Senn Memorial Fund. The fund provides a fully-funded scholarship and raises money to be donated to the Dorothy M. Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at the Wexner Medical Center.
The Buckeyes will face Cleveland State for the Connor Senn Memorial Match at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.