After suffering its worst loss so far this season, the Ohio State women’s soccer team is looking to rebound as it returns home for two games.
The Buckeyes are set to face No. 24 Illinois and Northwestern this weekend as part of Big Ten play. OSU is 4-5-0 overall and 1-2-0 in the Big Ten following a 5-1 loss at No. 8 Penn State last week.
OSU coach Lori Walker said consistency continues to be an issue for the team.
“We’ve had some bumps in the road, there are flashes where we play pretty well and there are other times where we’re missing simple assignments,” Walker said. “I think that we’re about where it should be with this kind of a young team and the number of injuries we’ve had.”
OSU is 1-3-0 this season against opponents ranked in the top 25.
Junior defender Marisa Wolf said the team isn’t too focused on rankings but is still preparing for a tough challenge.
“It definitely gives us the awareness that we need to work harder, stick tackles harder and work harder during practice just because they are a ranked team,” Wolf said.
Wolf said the team has focused more on defense in practice after allowing a season-high five goals in the loss against Penn State.
“We’ve been really focused on defending, team defending, and pressuring on the outside,” Wolf said. “We had a couple breakdowns during Penn State and that’s really what coach (Walker) has been nailing on the head. Just how we’re defending and how we’re working together and staying as a team.”
Senior forward Kayla Varner said the team is using the loss from last week to add to its motivation for the upcoming games.
“I think coming off as big of a loss as we did against Penn State is motivation in itself,” Varner said.
The Buckeyes plan to learn from mistakes made in their previous matchup, including fixing communication errors and developing an offensive rhythm. Walker said she wants the team to feel more confident on the offensive side of the ball.
“There were some miscommunications in the back between center backs and goalkeepers and that’s got to improve,” Walker said. “You’ve got our ability to be more dangerous holding the ball and getting into the attack and as well just an overall level of confidence that when we’re on the field we can hold the ball and be dangerous.”
Kickoff against Illinois is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. and the game against Northwestern is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.