The Ohio State men’s soccer team is getting a break from its Big Ten schedule Wednesday, when it welcomes the Oakland Golden Grizzlies to Columbus.
Oakland (5-3-5, 3-0-1) is a member of the Horizon League, but Buckeye coach John Bluem said his team would be wrong to take the small conference school lightly.
“We’ve played Oakland many times before and they are a very good attacking team,” he said. “One of the things we’ll have to make sure we do is to first, (is) bounce back after (Sunday’s game). It’s a short turnaround to play again on Wednesday night. We’ll also have to make sure we respect our opponent, we can’t look at Oakland and say, ‘This is a team from a smaller conference and we should be able to win.’ Well you know, that’s not how it’s going to happen for us, we’re going to have to fight every single game as hard as we can if we want to get a result.”
Oakland enters the match against the Buckeyes (2-6-5, 0-2-2) coming off a 3-0 loss to another Big Ten team, then-No. 14 Michigan State. The Grizzlies sit in second place in the conference.
Defense has been crucial to The Golden Grizzlies’ success this season, as they have only allowed an average of 1.23 goals per game this year. Oakland junior forward Joey Tinnion leads the team with 14 points (six goals and two assists) in 2013.
Bluem said the Buckeyes have been “riding the coattails of an incredible goalkeeper this year,” and the defense will have to remain strong in Wednesday’s match.
OSU redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov said his job is to keep the team in the game at all times and that the team needs to remain focused in its upcoming matches.
“It’s very important to keep the spirits of the younger guys up and make sure that they’re still checked in and focused on the season,” he said. “(The season) is still not over — everything is up for grabs. I think because we’ve been so close, the soccer gods will come through. We’ll get something eventually.”
Three of OSU’s last four opponents have been ranked in the top 20 at the time it played them. Sophomore midfielder Zach Mason said confidence from playing those teams, after tying all three of them, will help the team finish the season strong.
“We’re going to do what we’ve been doing (in practice),” he said. “I think we have a lot of confidence. You know, we’ll stick to the basics, stick to what we’ve been doing, we’ve been really close and I think we are right there.”
Wednesday night’s game is set for 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The team’s next match is scheduled against Cleveland State Oct. 27, before it resumes conference play against No. 13 Penn State in Columbus Nov. 2.
An earlier edition of this story noted that OSU had lost to the last three ranked teams it had played. The Buckeyes have in fact tied all three of these opponents.