Courtesy of the Ohio State Athletic Department
The Ohio State women’s soccer team continues NCAA tournament play Friday in a second-round matchup against Milwaukee at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The Buckeyes (11-8-2) pulled off a 3-0 opening round upset at regional No. 4-seed Tennessee last Saturday behind a pair of goals from junior forward Tiffany Cameron.
For a team that had been in somewhat of a slump offensively to finish the regular season, the trio of goals was a welcome sign and what Cameron called “a great confidence booster.”
“I was happy that I could redeem myself because the last game (a penalty shootout loss to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament), I didn’t get any good shooting opportunities. I wasn’t really that dangerous,” Cameron said. “I was really excited that there was kind of like a second chance.”
That second chance is being embraced by the entire team. After losing in the first round of the conference tournament, OSU was not expecting to receive a bid to the national tournament but was selected as an at-large team.
After the Buckeyes made a run to the national semifinals in last year’s tournament, this year’s team is trying to prove people wrong, Cameron said.
“I think that a lot of people last year thought that we got it easy … our selections and stuff,” she said. “We were the underdogs going into the (Tennessee) game so we felt great that we proved everyone wrong because I’m sure a lot of people thought we were going to lose. So, we just like to prove people wrong and come to play. I don’t think it matters, the rankings really. It just matters what team comes to play at the end of the day.”
OSU will need to play at a high level against a Milwaukee team that is 19-2 on the season. The Buckeyes are 0-2 against the Panthers all-time, including a 2-1 loss in Columbus last season.
“It’s kind of time to step up and see a different result,” coach Lori Walker said. “I think that we certainly have the talent and I think we play soccer well enough … it’s nice that other people believe in what we’ve been doing and have put us in a position to continue to compete. But ultimately right now, it’s about us surviving and advancing, finding ways to score goals.”
Both Walker and Cameron agreed that the experience from going deep into last year’s tournament has been a benefit to the team.
“It just adds a level of comfort to knowing how long the season can go,” Walker said. “A lot of players at this point in the season are tired emotionally, they’re tired physically. I think this group is just thrilled to still be playing and still be together and the energy at training has been really high.
“They have nothing to lose at this point, it’s not like we’re trying to defend being the Big Ten champions, defend going to the (national semifinals), just come out and play. And so they’ve really taken the pressure off of them and they’re really just showing up and enjoying their time together and trying to advance.”
The winner of OSU and Milwaukee will face the winner of Duke and Georgia at 1 p.m. Sunday at Koskinen Stadium.