Ohio State freshman forward Emaly Vatne (14) heads the ball down the field in the game against Florida Gulf Coast University on Sept. 7. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo Editor

After splitting two road games against Michigan and Michigan State last weekend, the Ohio State women’s soccer team (7-5-1, 4-2-1 Big Ten) intends to build upon its consistency when it plays No. 21 Rutgers (9-1-4, 5-0-2 Big Ten) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Maryland (4-7-4, 2-4-1 Big Ten)  at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Sophomore forward Marissa Birzon said both teams the Buckeyes will compete against coming up are two very strong.

“They’re both very aggressive,” Birzon said. “And they’re definitely coming out to play and looking to beat us, so we just have to find a way to beat them and do our best to keep our momentum going forward.”

The last time Ohio State and Rutgers met, the Scarlet Knights came away with the 1-0 advantage over the Buckeyes at home.

With a fairly balanced offense, the Scarlet Knights’ biggest strength is its defense, giving up fewer than two points to its opponents all season..

Sophomore forward Amirah Ali has proved to be a significant player on the Rutgers offense this year, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against No.14 Northwestern and leading the team with 10 goals.

After falling to Ohio State at home earlier this season, Maryland continues to struggle, recording a total of seven losses thus far.

Senior forward Jarena Harmon has been a strong player on Maryland’s offense, notching a goal the Terrapins and helping her team come away with the victory over No. 14 Northwestern.  

Last weekend was a huge test for the Buckeyes, traveling on the road to take on the Spartans and the Wolverines in a series of rivalry games and only coming away with one win of the two matches.

Birzon scored the game-winner for the Buckeyes against Michigan State in the 51st minute of the match.

Birzon said the loss to the Wolverines was tough and the team really wanted to come out with a win against a major rival.

“Honestly, we didn’t come out as the better team in that game,” Birzon said. “But then we really picked it up and turned our game around on Sunday beating Michigan state. So, the team chemistry has been awesome together and were really looking forward to the rest of the couple games we have left.”

As the season nears its end for Ohio State, the Buckeyes will search for more success down the stretch in Big Ten play. With just four games left, senior goalkeeper Devon Kerr said she is personally very excited to get back home and play in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium once again.

“It’s always a little bit tougher playing on the road,” Kerr said. “And I just think being back at the Jesse will just bring a lot of energy to our team and its always just great to be back at home in front of our fans.”