Tim Kubick / For the Lantern
Ohio State men’s soccer’s first win of the 2012 season was doubly important – it also clinched its second consecutive Wolstein Classic championship.
OSU (1-2-1) captured its first win against Davidson, 3-2, on Sunday in an overtime victory in the Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes drew with Coastal Carolina, 1-1, Friday to stay in the running for their second consecutive tournament title. The Buckeyes, also tournament hosts, rallied from 2-0 deficit to capture the tournament.
“It’s awesome. It’s such a relief for us because we have been so close for so long,” said senior midfielder Austin McAnena. “I mean every single game we have been pretty unlucky at the end of games, and that last goal we got lucky and I think that can really turn our season around.”
OSU coach John Bluem wasn’t too happy with how his team started in the beginning of the game, but was proud of the way his team finished.
“It feels great. I thought we would already have won one by now,” Bluem said. “We lost some games we thought we could have won. Today was a game we thought we could win, and then we put ourselves in a really deep hole. Really proud of our players that they hung in there and got the win today.”
With the Buckeyes down, 2-0, in the second half, things went from bad to worse, as sophomore midfielder Yianni Sarris was hit with a red card early in the period, and forced the Buckeyes to play with only 10 players on the field. Instead of the man-down scenario setting OSU back even more, it spurred the Buckeyes to a revival.
“We all kind of looked at each other,” sophomore forward Kenny Cunningham said. “Let’s get it together; this is a turning point of our season. If we get this together, the whole season turns around.”
Shortly after the red card, senior midfielder Sebastian Rivas scored the first goal for the Buckeye. Then freshman defender Alex Bujenovic tied the game up 2-2 with a free kick that forced overtime.
In the 97th minute, Cunningham put Davidson away for good with a powerful, game winning shot.
If the game had two different stories of the intensity level for the Buckeyes, McAnena said the penalty on Sarris ignited the team and brought them together.
“I think it was just the intensity,” McAnena said. “We were a man down, and we really needed to pick it up. It was kind of our last stand, and when we were down 2-0, with Sarris on the bench, we just had to start attacking.”
After the game, Bluem pointed out the issues with his team early in the season, but said he felt the team came together at the right time on Sunday.
“I think one of the issues with the team through the first four games have been a little bit of selfishness,” Bluem said. “They got to start looking for each other rather than thinking about themselves, and I think they did that when we were a man down. They collectively came together and played harder for each other, so that is a good step.”
As the team prepares for San Diego on Friday, there are other areas Bluem wants to correct within the team.
“I think we need to be better defensively,” Bluem said. “We have allowed too many goals. Our goalkeeper has made some mistakes, as well as our back four, in allowing goals.”
With the win, Cunningham said OSU no longer faces the pressure of taking its first victory.
“It’s hard to explain, once you lose a couple of games in a row, it seems like impossible to win,” said Cunningham. “So getting out of this hole was really important for us, and for us to win our first game, it was really important.”