Photo courtesy of the Ohio State Athletic Department
While many students are taking exams or sitting in lecture halls Wednesday, the Ohio State women’s soccer team will begin its quest to win a conference tournament championship.
The Buckeyes take on Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. The tournament, which returns after not being held in 2009 or 2010, is hosted by Northwestern from Nov. 2 to Nov. 6, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
OSU finished the regular season with a 10-8-1 record, including a 5-5-1 mark in the Big Ten, which earned the team the No. 7 seed in the tournament. The Fighting Illini finished 14-4-1 (8-2-1 Big Ten) and are the No. 2 seed.
In the teams’ regular season matchup on Sept. 23 in Columbus, the Buckeyes won, 2-1, to clinch the 200th victory in program history.
Senior goalie Katie Baumgardner said while it’s a confidence boost knowing that you’ve already beaten your opponent before, nothing is guaranteed.
“It also puts a little more pressure on us, like we know how to get it done, which is good, and we know that it’s possible,” Baumgardner said. “But we’ve still got to do it again. It was a close game the first time and I’m sure it’s going to be a close game again.”
The familiarity with Illinois will help the Buckeyes, said senior forward Caitlyn Martin.
“We know a little bit about them and how they play,” Martin said. “But it’s always hard to beat a team twice, so we’re going to have to have a good game plan together. We’ll definitely be motivated and ready to play.”
OSU struggled toward the end of its season, losing four of its last six games. A 3-0 victory against Indiana on Senior Day last Sunday could give the team some momentum going into the tournament.
“I think the good thing for us is we’ve really struggled with the middle to the bottom-half of the conference, but we’ve done really well against the top-half of the conference,” coach Lori Walker said. “…I think we are better against quality soccer teams and Illinois certainly is that.”
Three members of the team were honored with Big Ten postseason awards, the conference office announced Tuesday. Senior defender Danielle Scoliere was named a first team All-Big Ten defender while sophomore midfielder Danica Wu earned second team All-Big Ten honors as a midfielder. Senior defender Liz Sullivan was the team’s Big Ten sportsmanship award honoree.
The winner between OSU and Illinois will go on to face the winner of No. 3 Michigan State and No. 6 Iowa at 2:15 p.m. on Friday.