Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
The Ohio State men’s soccer coach said his team will need to perform better than it has so far to defend its Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic title this weekend.
After winning their homefield tournament last season, the Buckeyes (0-2) are coming off back-to-back losses to the University of Dayton and the University of Illinois-Chicago last weekend.
After the pair of defeats, OSU heads into its seventh-annual edition of the tournament this weekend to take on Coastal Carolina Friday and Davidson Sunday.
In 2011, the Buckeyes won the Classic after sweeping Florida International, Stetson and Binghamton.
“We’re not off to a good start,” said men’s soccer coach John Bluem. “We know that we didn’t play as well as we need to, so hopefully the guys are going to feel that motivation to perform better.”
The two early-season losses, however, are not getting junior team captain and defender Sage Gardner down.
Instead, Gardner is using the two early season losses as motivation for the weekend.
“I think we’ve got to use those games to fuel our desire for the upcoming weeks, especially this weekend since it’s the Bert and Iris (Wolstein Classic),” Gardner said.
Sophomore transfer and midfielder Yianni Sarris and freshman midfielder Zach Mason are new to the Buckeyes, but both agree the season has not started as planned.
“I think we’ve had a good preseason building up to the regular season but the results haven’t been what we’ve wanted,” Mason said.
“We definitely learned a lesson and we’re going to come out and do our best and do everything we can as a team to get some W’s this weekend,” Sarris said.
The Wolstein Classic is important to players and coaches alike – Bluem said he knows the team could use the wins on the home pitch.
“The Wolstein Classic is something we’ve always taken great pride in and tried to win that tournament for the Wolstein family,” Bluem said. “They’ve been good to us and we really want to try to play really hard for them.”
With two difficult opponents, Bluem said the home wins would help the players forget any issues they had early on in the season.
On Tuesday, Coastal Carolina moved up to No. 16 in the NCAA Division I rankings, but Sarris does not see that as a concern.
“Both Davidson and Coastal Carolina are great teams … they’ve had great programs these last few years,” Sarris said. “But I think we can come back and get some wins this weekend.”
Bluem said he sees possibility for a turnaround.
“There’s work to be done and we’ll get better,” Bluem said. “So I think that everyone is looking forward.”
OSU’s Friday game against Coastal Carolina at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m, while its contest against Davidson is slated for 2:30 p.m Sunday.