For the fourth consecutive season, the Ohio State men’s soccer team (5-8-5, 1-3-2) fell in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
After a scoreless first half, the Michigan State Spartans (11-4-3, 3-2-1) scored two goals in a span of 12 minutes en route to a 2-0 victory over the Buckeyes.
Buckeye coach John Bluem said the team was well aware of the level of difficulty the Spartans brought into Wednesday’s match.
“We knew that we were in for a difficult game and Michigan State is a very good team,” Bluem said. “We had to be at our very best to get a result tonight and we fell a little bit short of that.”
The Spartans’ first goal came in the 57th minute when redshirt-senior midfielder Brent McIntosh scored his first goal of the season from 10 yards out.
The Buckeyes had a chance to tie just three minutes later after Buckeye freshman forward Danny Jensen earned a Buckeye penalty kick when he was taken down inside the Spartan penalty box. Senior defender Sage Gardner took the shot for OSU, but the ball bounced off the crossbar and went out of bounds for a Spartan goal kick.
Bluem said the missed penalty and the pressure of being down a goal was too much to rebound.
“The first goal we made some bad mistakes and allowed them a goal,” Bluem said. “Then we have a chance to get back into it and unfortunately, Sage hits a great penalty but it’s an inch too much to the left. That kind of took the wind out of us.”
In the 69th minute, the Spartans added to their lead after a goal from sophomore midfielder Sean Conerty. He scored after he received a bouncing ball on the left side of the box and volleyed it off the far post outside of Buckeye redshirt-junior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov’s reach.
Junior midfielder Ryan Ivancic said the pressure from the second goal distracted the team from performing their original game plan.
“We didn’t keep the ball as much as we wanted to,” Ivancic said. “They’re a good team. They put us under a lot of pressure.”
Ivanov recorded nine saves in the game, bringing his total for the season to 110, good for fifth in program history for single-season saves.
Bluem said the play of Ivanov throughout the season kept the team alive in some difficult times.
“Ivy (Ivanov) has had a brilliant season,” Bluem said. “Without him, things could have been worse. He had a great year.”
The Spartans ended the match with a 20-16 advantage in shots.
The Buckeyes have been playing all season with a majority of younger players, having 10 freshmen, two walk-ons and five transfers. Ivancic said the inexperience may have played a role in the loss.
“We’ve been playing with that (inexperience) all year and we found a stride in the last five games of the season,” Ivancic said. “But I think (inexperience) might have a little to do with it. They’re an older team and physicality showed a bit today.”
Following the loss, other OSU players declined to comment.