With its first loss of the season in the rearview mirror, the Ohio State men’s soccer team is set for a quick turnaround against another tough opponent.
OSU is scheduled to take on Akron (3-2-1) Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeyes (2-1-3, 1-1-0) fell to then-No. 10 Penn State, 1-0, on the road Sunday for their first loss of the 2014 campaign, and the effort level in that contest did not sit well with several members of the team.
“We didn’t play very well,” senior midfielder Max Moller said. “We held back too much, sat back, played too much defense, didn’t step up. It’s a learning lesson. We learned what we have to work on. It really exposed all our weaknesses.”
Sophomore forward Christian Soldat echoed those statements of disappointment.
“There’s a lot of things you can blame it on, but overall, we really gave them too much credit, them being Penn State and a top-10 team,” Soldat said. “We kind of sat back in the first half and let them build momentum when we should’ve came out flying as the underdogs.”
OSU and Akron aren’t strangers to each other’s programs. Wednesday’s matchup marks the 37th meeting between the two schools. Akron has dominated the series with a 27-6-3 all-time record, including a 1-0 victory in Akron, Ohio, last season.
“We know how they play, they probably know how we play, and we can come out, have a good scouting report, and work on defensively and offensively how we can take them down,” Soldat said.
The Zips were the 2010 national champions, and made it to the sweet 16 in last year’s NCAA Tournament. However, the team dropped its first two regular season games this season and drew another before rattling off three straight victories coming into this week’s game.
OSU coach John Bluem said he thinks the Zips have worked through their early season struggles in what is only the second season in charge for coach Jared Embick and are ready to bring their A-game.
“The names have changed, the coaching staff has changed, but they are still getting really, really quality recruits,” Bluem said. “They had a difficult start to the season, but they have (13) freshmen, so they have a lot of really young players on their team, and now they’ve won three straight. It seems like they’re finding the way, so I anticipate that they’re going to be a pretty well-oiled machine when they come in here Wednesday night and we’re going to have to be at our very best.”
Aside from the on-field matchup, the game holds a special meaning for Bluem and the rest of the team, as it is the annual Connor Senn Memorial Match.
Senn, then a freshman on the men’s soccer team, collapsed on the field during a game at Akron on Sept. 26, 2001. He was rushed to the hospital, but died that night from a congenital heart defect.
The Connor Senn Memorial Fund was established by Dr. Lance Senn, Senn’s father, to raise money for scholarship fund an educational symposium. Proceeds collected at the game will go to the fund and the Dorothy M. Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at the Wexner Medical Center.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been (13) years since Connor passed,” Bluem said. “The game has seen some changes over the years, but the one thing that’s been consistent is it’s been a wonderful community event.
“It always saddens me quite a bit when we have this game,” Bluem continued. “It just brings back the memory of that tragic night.”
Bluem said he plans to share a moment with the team before the game to stress the preciousness of the time they get to spend together and motivate his squad to play for a “special reason” in Senn’s memory.
After the matchup with the Zips, OSU is set to take on Dayton on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Dayton, Ohio.