Ohio State forward Eleanor Gabriel (8) dribbles the ball down the field against the Wisconsin Badgers on Oct. 21st. Ohio State won 2-1. Credit: Cori Wade | For The Lantern

With the Big Ten tournament vastly approaching, the Ohio State women’s soccer team comes in as the third-ranked team in the conference, and prepares for battle against Nebraska.

For senior forward Eleanor Gabriel, this is something Ohio State (9-5-3, 6-2-3 Big Ten) had been striving for since the beginning of the season.

“One of our goals was to make it in the top four of the Big Ten,” Gabriel said. “And I think that’s a really good standard to hold. I think that the Big Ten is a competitive conference and making a spot in the top four is always a win for us.”

This will be Ohio State’s chance to continue the momentum after ending with a pair of 2-1 victories over Purdue and then-No. 19 Wisconsin.  

Sophomore forward Marissa Birzon notched the first goal for the Buckeyes on Sunday in a match against Wisconsin. Birzon said the team is thrilled and looking forward to facing Nebraska coming off a big win over the Badgers.

Nebraska (8-6-4, 4-3-3 Big Ten) is the sixth seed in the Big Ten tournament and has scored 28 goals to Ohio State’s 22 on the season.

Senior forward Faith Carter and junior midfielder Meg Brandt are essential players when it comes to Nebraska’s offense so far this season. Carter scored three goals against Indiana and Brandt tallied one against Oregon State and Indiana.  

The Big Ten tournament is a rematch for these teams, with the Cornhuskers trying to redeem themselves after falling 1-0 to the Buckeyes last season and drawing a tie against them earlier this year in Columbus.

The Buckeyes will prepare for one of their biggest tests on the year so far, and Gabriel said the rest heading into the game may make the difference come time for the tournament.

“I think one of the main preparations that we’ve done this week, is just getting some quality rest for our games and making sure that after the regular season, everybody’s ready to go for the second part of our season,” Gabriel said.

Whichever team wins the Big Ten tournament this weekend will then match up against the champion of the quarterfinal game between Rutgers and Minnesota in the Big Ten semifinals at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.

With expectations running high this week, the team relies on the leaders and upperclassmen to give the younger players on the team some words of advice.  

“I think our senior leadership and junior leadership, has really helped our team be successful this season, especially welcoming the freshmen because they have stepped up in some big games,” Birzon said.

As postseason play begins, the Buckeyes will hope to find success at home against Nebraska. The game is at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m. on Sunday.