Three of the last four matches for the Ohio State men’s soccer team (2-6-5, 0-2-2) have been against ranked opponents, and after a scoreless draw with the No. 16 Northwestern Wildcats, all three resulted in ties.
OSU played to a 0-0 tie with then-No. 17 Louisville Oct. 2, and tied then-No. 18 Michigan State 1-1 Oct. 13.
Buckeye redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov recorded seven saves in Sunday’s match and earned his fifth shutout of the season. He is now tied with Penn State keeper Andrew Wolverton for third place in the Big Ten Conference for shutouts.
Ivanov said the shutout was a good confidence booster moving into the last four games of the regular season.
“Trying to keep the team in the game at all times is my job,” he said. “It’s good when we get a clean sheet for the defense, we’ll just have to keep moving forward and building on it.”
Ivanov now has 80 saves in 12 games, keeping him in first place in the conference.
Both teams were successful in creating scoring opportunities throughout the match, but neither was able to capitalize or find a way to get the ball in the net. The Wildcats outshot the Buckeyes by a total of 20-14 and led the OSU in corner kicks, 7-5.
Despite the tie, Buckeye coach John Bluem said the team will walk away feeling like this game was a loss because it played well and had a lot of scoring opportunities throughout the game.
“You just keep waiting for (a shot) to go in, somehow, for us and we felt like we deserved to win a game like this because we’ve been in so many of them, and it’s been kind of a rough stretch,” he said. “The guys’ attitudes are great and we are grinding away at it. If we can find a way to produce some goals we might make something happen this year.”
Missed opportunities have been a continued trend this year for the Buckeyes. The trend continued on OSU’s second attempt of the second overtime when sophomore midfielder Zach Mason blasted a shot wide of the goal from outside the box with just more than five minutes left in play.
Mason said after the game that despite the missed opportunities, the results of the last few games proves to the team that it can compete with anybody.
“We’ve known (we can compete) all along, but these are results that are showing it on paper, so I think this is only going to boost our confidence and maybe get some wins in the next few games,” he said. “I think we will try and push each other in training and try and have some fun with it too. It can’t all be serious because it’s a game and we want to enjoy it. I think the last two games have shown that we’ve kept our spirits up and are still fighting to the end.”
The Buckeyes have a break from in-conference action as they prepare to take on Oakland Wednesday and Cleveland State Sunday, before finishing off the season with games against Penn State and Wisconsin.