As the Ohio State women’s soccer team prepares for its match at No. 8 Michigan, the Buckeyes will be looking to defeat the maize and blue for the sixth straight time.
The Saturday evening game is for more than just bragging rights, as OSU is fighting for a spot in next weekend’s Big Ten tournament. Michigan, on the other hand, could win the regular season title with a win and a Nebraska loss or tie. Last season, OSU won the Big Ten Tournament after finishing second during the regular season.
“Since we’ve been here as freshmen, we haven’t lost (against Michigan),” Buckeye senior defender Megan Fuller said. “It means a lot to us to win, and it’s a game that we get pumped up for because it’s Michigan.”
The Buckeyes are currently tied for sixth in the Big Ten with Minnesota, just one point ahead of Iowa and Wisconsin. The top eight teams make the Big Ten Tournament, and OSU needs a win to guarantee its spot, but could also secure a spot depending on the results of other Big Ten matches.
Fuller said the focus for this weekend is simple.
“We’re just taking one game at a time, (not) depending on the outcomes that come out today and tomorrow,” Fuller said. “We have to win one at a time.”
Coach Lori Walker said a big factor in the result on Saturday is if OSU is able to capitalize on its scoring chances.
“Working on our defending, and the quality of our finishing are two consistent things for us. We’ve seen great improvement in both of those,” Walker said.
Coming into the match, Michigan has won seven straight matches, and is 14-2-1 overall on the season. With a win Saturday night, the Wolverines would have a chance at their first-ever Big Ten regular season championship.
“They are playing for an ability to host (an) NCAA tournament (game) at home,” Walker said. “It’s their senior day and they are going to put a lot into this match.”
Buckeye sophomore goalkeeper Jillian McVicker has played the full time in seven of the last eight matches, and is looking to play in her third OSU-Michigan game. McVicker said when she came to OSU, she did not know the rivalry but she understands its importance now.
“Coming in from New Jersey, I didn’t really know about it, and I was like, ‘This is insane.’ It’s like the biggest rivalry I’ve ever seen,” McVicker said. “It’s really big for us because our senior class has never lost to them. So coming in really hard is really important to us, and of course we need to win to make the Big Ten tournament.”
Kickoff Saturday is slated for 6 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Mich.