After 52 minutes of scoreless soccer and an hour-and-45 minute lightning delay, it took four minutes for Jack Holland to find Devyn Etling and put Ohio State ahead 1-0.
The redshirt sophomore’s finish ended a 17-match winless streak for the Ohio State men’s soccer team (1-1-0) Sunday with a 1-0 victory over the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames (1-1-0) at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“I noticed there was so much space in the midfield obviously with them being down a man, so I kept trying to find little spots in the midfield,” Etling said. “Soon the defender started following me and then there was so much space behind so I tried to take advantage of that and that certainly worked out in the end.”
The Buckeyes’ last win came against Hofstra on Aug. 26, 2018. Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve said he’s glad that the improvement he’s seen in his team since the past season is finally showing on the scoreboard.
“Don’t get me wrong, we still have a lot of work to do,” Maisonneuve said. “But again, this group of guys — I told them in the locker room, just their overall growth and development, in a pretty short time, for a new team has been good.”
Neither team put much together offensively before the delay, preventing each other from finding any room in their respective goal boxes. UIC didn’t take its first shot until the 18th minute.
Ohio State redshirt senior midfielder Jake Scheper came close to scoring, but his shot was saved by UIC redshirt junior goalkeeper Sokratis Vasilas.
The Buckeyes took this opportunity to drive back toward the goal. Junior midfielder Joshua Jackson-Ketchup found an opening in the twenty-fourth minute but his shot was kicked straight into the arms of the standing Vasilas.
In the 33rd minute, a threatening Buckeye pass toward a lunging Jackson-Ketchup did not connect.
“Sometimes we just missed a few passes like we were a little off. It was just little miscommunications that we kind of fixed in the second half and that helped us a lot,” Etling said.
However, in the same minute, UIC junior midfielder Elias McCloud picked up his second yellow card and was ejected from the game, giving the Buckeyes the advantage of having one more player on the pitch.
Coming out of halftime in a scoreless contest, the Buckeyes found open field and were challenged by fewer Flames defenders. Another threatening pass was kicked past Etling in the 51st minute, five minutes of game time before the eventual game-winner.
“We were up a man, so being aggressive was the main thing,” Maisonneuve said. “We wanted to get out of the gate and put our foot on the pedal and get after it.”
UIC’s best chance to get a goal of their own came when sophomore forward Bar Hazut took the ball near the Ohio State goal and shot it, just missing the right goal post by inches. It put another shot on goal in the 81st minute.
The men’s soccer team now moves its sights to the University of Dayton, who they play on Friday.