The bracket for the NCAA men’s soccer tournament was released Monday afternoon and for the first time in the last five years, Ohio State was not included.
The announcement effectively ends a very up-and-down season for the Buckeyes, who finished 10-7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten.
Junior midfielder Chris Hegngi and senior defender David Tiemstra headlined a list of eight OSU players who received Big Ten awards; Hegngi and Tiemstra were named the conference’s best offensive and defensive player, respectively.
Hegngi scored nine goals this season to lead the Big Ten while Tiemstra led a defense that allowed just 20 goals in 18 contests this season.
Tiemstra wins the award for the second consecutive year and marks the third consecutive year for an OSU player to earn the award.
Tiemstra and Hegngi were named First-Team All-Big Ten while senior forward Parnell Hegngi, junior midfielder Austin McAnena and junior goalkeeper Matt Lampson earned second-team honors.
Freshmen forward and midfielders Kenny Cunningham and Brady Wahl were named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and sophomore defender Sage Gardner was the Buckeye recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, which is given to the player who has most distinguished himself through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
The Buckeyes finished second in the Big Ten standings following the regular season and were awarded the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.
However, those honors were bittersweet as OSU fell to Penn State in the first round of the tournament, 2-0.
The team had won the Big Ten tournament title the last four years.
After losing to Northwestern, 3-2, on Oct. 9, the team sat at 7-5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference with a regular season Big Ten championship unlikely.
Coach John Bluem said the game was “one of the worst performances by an Ohio State team in (his) 15 years here.”
The team responded, going 3-0-1 in its next four contests to put itself in a position to win the title in its final regular season game on the road against Indiana.
“If we win against Indiana, that would make us the conference champions, no matter what other scenario,” Bluem said. “We control our own destiny.”
The task appeared too tall for OSU as they fell to Indiana, 1-0.
“It was certainly a disappointment to come away without a win and not win the championship outright,” Bluem said in a press release. “But it was definitely a difficult task at hand.”
Bluem had been optimistic prior to the Indiana game at his team’s chances for receiving an NCAA tournament bid as well. With 48 teams invited to the tournament, Bluem said his team’s Ratings Percentage Index was around 51 and expected it to improve.
“We’re going to move up a little bit,” he said. “If we can (beat Indiana) our RPI is going to get better. There are a lot of good teams out there; we need to win against Indiana to give us a good chance.”
Two teams from the Big Ten, Northwestern and Indiana, were selected for the tournament, while the Buckeyes will be watching from home for the first time since 2006 when they finished 11-7-3 overall and 3-2-1 in the conference.