Friday evening’s match against No. 8 Michigan State will mark the annual Senior Day match for the Ohio State men’s soccer team.
It’s a time to honor the seniors that have endured tough losses, winning streaks and a change of coaching staffs, providing leadership through it all.
“I’ve said it before, it was a lot to ask of this group, and without that senior leadership, Brady [Blackwell], Alex [Nichols] unfortunately has been injured since the second game of the season, Michael [Dichlian] and [Michael] Prosuk, it’s a good group and without them to help get everything going and keeping everything together, and obviously we’ve hit a lot of hurdles and bumps in the road and if it wasn’t for those guys, you know, we wouldn’t be continuing to grow and develop,” first-year Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve said.
For the seniors, it will not be the last time they step onto the pitch at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, as the team still has two home matches to play before the close of the regular season. But it will be a night for them to enjoy with their families and reflect on their time as soccer players at Ohio State.
“It means a lot obviously. I’ve been here three seasons now and it’s been a long journey, so this is kind of getting closer to the end of it. So it means a lot being able to walk out on the field with the other seniors and families. It’s a good opportunity, and it’ll be a good experience,” redshirt senior midfielder Brady Blackwell said.
“Being a Buckeye is always an honor,” senior forward Michael Prosuk said. “I mean these past two years have gone by pretty fast [and] I enjoyed every single minute of it on the field. I got to meet new people, especially the new coaching staff, which was a pretty hard transition but they’ve got the program better.”
The Spartans (9-2-2) come into Columbus to face Ohio State (1-9-2) as the No. 8 ranked team in the nation in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, but are coming off a loss to Akron on Tuesday night.
“Obviously they’re good. Every team we’re playing down the stretch is pretty good. Michigan State, especially the past few years, has been a big time program,” Blackwell said. “They don’t give up a lot of goals, so if we can get one early I think it will help us out, but it will be a battle.”
Michigan State boasts a potent attack led by senior forwards Dejuan Jones, Ryan Sierakowski, who each lead the team with five goals, and Hunter Barone, junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone, who leads the team with eight assists, and freshman forward Farai Mutatu.
“Michigan State is another top 10 opponent. They’re a fantastic team, they got good leadership. A lot of their guys have been around quite a long time with the Barone’s, Sierakowski, they’ve got a really nice team,” Maisonneuve said.
The Spartans are just as stingy defensively as they are dangerous on attack. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague has compiled a .068 goals against average and a .804 save percentage this season.
“They move the ball really well but yet defensively they don’t give much up,” Maisonneuve said. “It’s going to be a really tough team, not only that but their excellent on set pieces, so I mean they’ve got it all and they’re well coached.”
Even though it is a top 10 matchup for the team, this match in particular means much more to the seniors than just a win or loss.
“My time here at Ohio State, I’ve loved every minute of it and I wish it didn’t have to come to an end but obviously it does so it’ll be a nice day I think,” Blackwell said.
Ohio State and No. 8 Michigan State are scheduled for a 5 pm kick on Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.