The Ohio State men’s soccer team (2-6-3, 0-2-0) began Wednesday’s practice half an hour earlier than usual with an impromptu scrimmage organized by the players in the hopes that it would help it put a stop to a seven-game winless streak.
Senior defender Sage Gardner said keeping the mood of the players up is vital in preparing for the team’s next match against the No. 18 Michigan State Spartans Sunday.
“Keeping everybody with the passion and enjoying the game is important,” Gardner said. “Before practice starts, we go out and have fun, making the younger guys remember why they play this game, and hopefully that will bring out confidence and the playing for the love of the game — which I think will bring good results.”
On top of a seven-match winless streak, OSU has failed to find the back of the net in four straight matches and will have to find a way to capitalize against a stingy Spartan defense that has only given up six goals all season — good for first in the Big Ten for goals allowed.
The Buckeyes are set to finish off a five-match stretch against teams who participated in the 2012 NCAA tournament. Currently, OSU is 0-3-1 in the stretch, after a tie with then-No. 17 Louisville and losses to in-state rival Akron and conference foes Indiana and Michigan.
Buckeye coach John Bluem said the team will look to change up the lineup in hopes of turning the season around.
“Over the next three days, we’re going to be looking at positional changes with people,” he said. “We’re going to be giving some people who haven’t been playing an opportunity to play. In training sessions over the next three days, we’re going to give guys opportunities to play in different positions than they may be used to playing, or considered playing, to see how they do. We will then gather information from the training sessions to make our squad selection for this weekend to travel up to Michigan State.”
The Spartans (7-1-1, 1-0-0) enter Sunday’s match on a three-game winning streak and are coming off a victory over the then-No. 5 Northwestern Wildcats. MSU earned the victory after Spartan junior forward Adam Montague scored a goal in the final minute of double overtime, giving the team a 3-2 victory.
Buckeye redshirt-senior defender Ben Killian said the team needs to make sure it is strong defensively and hopes it will start getting some different results.
“We’ve been in every game, we just got to start finishing on our chances,” Killian said. “I feel like we haven’t gotten any lucky breaks yet this season, and there have been a lot of bounces that haven’t gone our way. It’s been a little bit frustrating, but I like what guys have been doing in practice this week and I think we’ll turn it around.”
The match is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. in East Lansing, Mich.