Entering the final month of regular season play, Ohio State women’s soccer (3-6-1, 1-2 Big Ten) will attempt to rebound from back-to-back losses this week, hosting Big Ten opponents Maryland (6-3-2, 2-1) and Penn State (6-5-1, 2-2).
The Terrapins come to Columbus ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten.
Maryland head coach Ray Leone commands an athletic group of forwards, including redshirt sophomore Alyssa Poarch, whose team-best six goals this season are third in the conference.
Ohio State head coach Lori Walker-Hock said team defense is the key to slowing down Poarch and the Terrapin offense.
“Maryland’s got some good personalities and some athletic players,” Walker-Hock said. “That takes a team effort to not lose track of people and don’t leave anybody out on an island to have to deal with things one-versus-one.”
Walker-Hock said the Buckeyes’ attack has been “awesome,” averaging 15.5 shots per game for fifth in the Big Ten.
“We just have to have the mentality of going into games knowing we’re going to win and knowing we’re gonna give it our all,” sophomore forward Kayla Fischer said.
Fischer leads the Buckeyes with four shots this year, and put up a team-high five shots and two shots on goal against Maryland in their previous matchup.
Ohio State looks to capitalize on scoring opportunities and use physical, fundamental team defense to defeat the Terrapins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Nittany Lions will bring their No. 2 Big Ten scoring offense to Columbus Sunday after winning two of their past three games.
Leading the attack for Penn State is redshirt freshman forward Ally Schlegel, whose eight goals are second in the Big Ten this season.
Penn State’s 24 goals thus far double the amount it’s allowed on the season, but Walker-Hock said the Nittany Lion talent is nothing the Buckeyes haven’t seen.
“We’ve played some pretty good teams, and so for us it’s always containing the other team’s personalities, putting pressure on the ball as high up the field as we can and just making sure that we’re showing up with the right energy,” Walker-Hock said.
Ohio State has scored just two total goals in its past three games, and Walker-Hock said the Buckeyes will need to commit to limiting opposing goal-scoring opportunities for a chance to win.
“Defending’s an attitude,” Walker-Hock said. “It’s not a skill set. It’s a mindset, and when the team shows up with that right mindset, then they collectively put pressure on the ball the way it needs to.”
Ohio State sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Silkowitz said the Buckeyes are excited to get the chance to get back in the win column.
“We’re just taking the games one game at a time for now on,” Silkowitz said. “We gotta go out and accomplish the mission that we set out to, and get the win.”
The Buckeyes kick off against Penn State at 2 p.m. Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.