The Ohio State men’s soccer team (2-5-2, 0-1) opened Big Ten conference play on a rainy Sunday, losing to Indiana by a score of 2-0. Two first-half goals were all it took for the Hoosiers to give OSU its third consecutive loss.
The Buckeyes ended the match with a season high 19 fouls and were outshot 33-10. Buckeye redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov fell to 2-4-1 as a starter and tallied 10 saves, matching his season high.
Ivanov said despite the weather conditions, he was pleased with the way the team played.
“With the unforgiving conditions, we did all right, but obviously, it was unfortunate end result,” he said. “I’m always thinking, ‘If I can prevent them from scoring, we’ll always have a chance,’ and as a goalkeeper I can’t change the game by scoring, so hopefully next time I can get 12 saves and we can get a better result.”
OSU’s struggles with finishing on scoring plays continued as it was unable to score off of 10 shots, five of which were on target. The team has recorded just one goal in the last five games on 54 attempts.
Buckeye coach John Bluem said that he is impressed by how well the team is handling the unlucky slump of not netting a goal.
“I sound like a broken record, but we had a nice stretch in the first half, but we failed to come up with a goal again,” Bluem said. “And it seems like we really should have had one.”
Bluem said that in practice, the team will watch film and hopefully be able to get a goal in the team’s next outing.
“We’re going to look at video again and continue to try and improve in areas where we can get better,” he said. “I think the guys are responding well to this difficult stretch, but it would obviously help if we could get a win and build our confidence.”
Preseason No. 1 and 2012 NCAA champions, Indiana (4-4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) opened the match quickly taking five shots and a corner kick in the first six minutes, but multiple saves by Ivanov kept it scoreless for the first 30 minutes.
The Hoosiers continued their assault in the first half firing 25 shots and connected on two of them, ending the half with a 2-0 lead. The Buckeyes were outshot 25-4 and Ivanov recorded seven saves.
Both teams created multiple scoring opportunities in the second half, but neither was able to connect. The Buckeyes’ best chance at a goal came in the 57th minute when senior captain and defender Sage Gardner blasted a shot from nearly 10 yards outside the box. Gardner almost squeaked it into the upper right corner of the net, but Hoosier redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Michael Soderlund was able to block it just before going in. Eleven minutes later, sophomore Buckeye midfielder Zach Mason attempted a long-distance shot of his own, which almost mirrored Gardner’s shot exactly.
Gardner said afterwards he was just trying to place the ball inside the box to a teammate on the play, and he believes the team will eventually find a way to score after continuously working on it in practice.
“I think ultimately, it’s the mentality, so we just got to instill confidence in each other,” he said. “We know we can create opportunities to score against these teams, now it’s just if we can capitalize on them.”
OSU is scheduled to return to Columbus play Wednesday to face off against No. 18 Louisville.