The men’s soccer team is no longer winless in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes handed No. 9 Penn State its first conference loss of 2013 Saturday, topping them, 1-0, in double overtime.
Despite it being senior day for OSU, it was an underclassman who stole the show. Freshman forward Danny Jensen netted the winning goal for the Buckeyes (5-6-5, 1-2-2) in the 108th minute after receiving a pass from junior midfielder Max Moller.
OSU Coach John Bluem said Jensen has continued to step up and is vital to the team’s success.
“The last four or five games, Danny Jensen has been playing sort of the way we expected he would,” Bluem said after the win. “It took him awhile to adjust and get settled in, but using him up top is the best way to use him. The team is really finding a way to find him and use his pace.”
Jensen said the team had “one of the best performances of the year” against the Nittany Lions (11-4-1, 5-1-0). He said the team was confident going in and knew it had the potential to keep up with the top Big Ten team.
“We knew we could (beat them), after the first half especially,” Jensen said. “I don’t think we out played them exactly, but we had confidence that knew we could beat them. Then when it went into overtime, I wanted to win for the seniors, so it was a good goal and I’m happy.”
Even though this season has been a tough one, senior defender Sage Gardner said a win like the one against Penn State shows what kind of team OSU truly is.
“It’s just a testament to our character,” Gardner said. “We could have easily given up halfway through the season just based off our record and not scoring goals … we just beat the number five team Ratings Percentage Index in the nation and Big Ten Champions … we don’t have anything to lose now. We’re playing for joy and to get in the NCAA tournament and everything is building up to that.”
Bluem said he has not seen his team give up either. He has been asking his players to give everything they have when they step onto the field and he has seen that these last few games.
“It’s a fantastic result for us and for the seniors,” Bluem said. “We’ve been asking these guys for four or five games now to just give us everything they’ve got and just lay it out there.”
A big win like the one against the Nittany Lions is something the Buckeyes can build on looking ahead to the Big Ten Tournament, Bluem said.
“We still don’t have a winning record but you’d think we were national champions tonight,” Bluem said after the match. “It was a good win, and it’s a win that hopefully we can build from knowing we have to do well in the Big Ten Tournament in order to have any postseason hopes. It was a very even game. Obviously it could have easily ended at 0-0, but a great finish by Danny gives us a well-deserved and exciting win.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to conclude their regular season Friday against Wisconsin in Madison, Wis. The game is set to start at 7 p.m.