The Ohio State men’s soccer team (1-12-2, 1-6-1 Big Ten) returns home to close out the 2018-19 home slate on Wednesday night as it will host first-year head coach Brian Maisonneuve’s former team and alma mater No. 2 Indiana (13-2, 6-0 Big Ten).
The Hoosiers are ranked second in the United Soccer Coaches Poll, and have a ranking of No. 2 in the NCAA Men’s Soccer RPI Poll.
This will be the first time Maisonneuve has gone against the school he has been affiliated with for many years. Maisonneuve was a player at Indiana in the early 1990s before embarking on a professional career that took him to Columbus as a member of the Crew and eventually to the United States Men’s National Team as a member of the 1998 World Cup squad.
He then returned to Bloomington as an assistant coach from 2010-2017.
Maisonneuve said Wednesday’s match will be an emotional one for him.
“I’ve been at Indiana obviously for a long time between playing, being an alum and then coaching there for eight years,” Maisonneuve said. “It’s a great spot and I owe them a ton to my playing career, to my coaching career.”
Aside from his own playing career at Indiana, Maisonneuve said his familiarity with the current Indiana roster due to his time as an assistant coach will factor into his emotions.
“They’ve got a lot of fifth-year seniors and a lot of seniors that I’ve had for three, four years coaching with and helping, you know, growing with and all that, so it’s going to be an emotional game,” Maisonneuve said.
However, with the team Maisonneuve has at Ohio State, the players want to cap off the final game of his first season as head coach with a win, what would be the team’s first in the Big Ten this season.
“The season hasn’t been going nowhere near what we expected or what we wanted, but we’re going to lay it all out on the line for [Coach Maisonneuve],” sophomore forward Joshua Jackson-Ketchup said.
Maisonneuve said he will have to put his emotions aside once the two teams take the field, knowing first hand how tough an opponent the Hoosiers can be.
“Once the whistle blows, it’s going to be a battle. They’re a good team, they’re a really good team and a well built team and they can beat you in a lot of ways,” Maisonneuve said. “They defend well, their principles are good, there is a reason they’re the number [two] team in the country.”
In order for the Buckeyes to go toe-to-toe with the Hoosiers, Maisonneuve said the squad must put together a complete 90-minute effort, instead of piecing together spurts of quality soccer, as they have throughout the season.
“First of all, we’ve got to play with confidence and belief. We’ve got to play with conviction on both sides of the ball,” Maisonneuve said. “We’ve had moments in games where we’ve done some really good things but it’s 20 minutes or 40 minutes or 60 minutes or 75 minutes. We’ve got to play 90 minutes of our A-game.”
Maisonneuve said another key to Ohio State’s chances on Wednesday is its ability to defend, for the Hoosiers can “play through you, around you, over you”.
“We kind of have to sit back a little bit and just kind of take advantage of the opportunities on the counter, you know that’s going to be our main goal,” Jackson-Ketchup said. “When they open up, they go up top and they’re very open so we have to take advantage of that.”
The Hoosiers enter Wednesday’s match with strengths at every level of their squad.
Senior defender Andrew Gutman leads the Hoosiers with eight goals and 22 points on the season. Meanwhile, redshirt senior midfielder Trevor Swartz ranks in the top five in the nation in assists with 10.
Between the pipes for Indiana, sophomore goalkeeper Trey Muse has recorded six clean sheets in 2018, putting him in a tie for 19th in the nation in that category.
The Hoosiers rank 11th in the nation in team goals with 32 and their high-octane attack has soared to 103 total points this season, which is good for ninth nationally.
In other words, the Buckeye defense will be put to the test, going up against what will prove to be one of their most stern challenges of the season.
The Buckeyes conclude their 2018 home schedule on Wednesday night at 7 pm at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.