Ohio State has struggled to find its stride but is looking to turn the season around against Kentucky.
The Buckeyes (6-5-1) face No. 16 Kentucky (6-2-3) on the road amid a slide that has seen them win just one game out of six, despite winning five straight before that.
“It’s huge. The season is just one step at a time, and we have five regular season games left,” senior midfielder Jack Holland said. “It’s a great opportunity. They’re a top 15 RPI team, and especially a win on the road would put us right back where we were before Cleveland State.”
Kentucky is coming off close results with two ranked opponents –– a 2-1 loss to No. 15 Florida International, and a double overtime tie with Big Ten leader No. 4 Indiana. The Wildcats hadn’t lost in their seven previous games.
Offensively, Kentucky has eight different scorers, so Ohio State’s defense has a legitimate task at hand.
“They have some really talented guys. They do not beat themselves,” head coach Brian Maisonneuve said. “[Sophomore forward Daniel Evans], he’s a handful. He’s scored four or five goals for them already. His movement and strength are very good. I like all their guys, but [junior midfielder Kalil ElMedkhar] he can get up and down the line, he’s dangerous.”
ElMedkhar leads the team in points with four goals and four assists while Evans follows with four goals and three assists.
The Wildcats are allowing 0.91 goals per game, while the Buckeyes are scoring an average of 1.42 goals per game. The Buckeye offense against the Wildcat defense is one matchup that favors the Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes have been creating chances, averaging 13.1 shots per game, but they haven’t taken advantage. Ohio State has scored only five goals in the past six games and were shut out in two of them.
“Everything we need to work on is pretty manageable and in our control,” Holland said. “We had 18 or 19 shots last game. We did score two goals, but still, if we are a little more clinical and a little more focused around the net, we are going to get a lot more of those opportunities.”
The match provides an opportunity for redshirt sophomore defender Luis Hernandez to play against his former team.
“I transferred from Kentucky. I know most of the guys. I know the entire coaching staff. I am just excited to go back out there and see some of the guys. I can’t wait for a great game,” Hernandez said.
Kentucky went 12-1 at home this past season and is 5-1-1 this year. It beat Ohio State 3-0 in their most recent matchup on Oct. 16, 2018.
The match kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Lexington, Kentucky.