As the regular season approaches its conclusion, the Ohio State men’s soccer team is still searching for some sense of consistency.
OSU (5-5-3, 3-2-0) continued its up-and-down season with a 2-0 win on the road against Wisconsin on Saturday to break a two-game losing streak.
“It was a very good win, we gutted it out,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “Good to get a road win in the conference, not easy to come by those, and kind of keeps us in the middle of things still.
“When I say ‘gutted it out,’ I mean we were under a lot of pressure and we just kept fighting and guys are throwing themselves in front of the ball to block shots and just working hard in the final third to deny opportunities.”
OSU now looks to take the momentum from the road victory back home to begin a three-game homestand. That stretch is scheduled to begin with a nonconference matchup against Bowling Green (9-3-1).
“Bowling Green is very tough for us to play against,” Bluem said. “It’s a big in-state rivalry, their players are very motivated to challenge us, and for them, probably every year, they look to us as one of the bigger games on their schedule.”
The Falcons carry an impact player on their roster in sophomore forward Pat Flynn. Flynn leads the nation in goals per game, scoring 12 times in 13 contests for an average of .92 per game.
In response to Flynn, the Buckeyes might have a new impact player on their side as well.
Freshman forward Marcus McCrary had a season-high three points for the Buckeyes in his homecoming to Madison, Wis.
“It felt really good,” McCrary said. “Everybody, all of my friends, and my dad and stepmom came to the game. It felt really good because the Badgers are a really good team, so it felt really good to get points and put the Badgers away, get the job done.”
OSU had nearly a week to prepare for its game against Wisconsin. Senior midfielder Max Moller said the week of preparation included OSU restructuring its formations to generate more offense.
“The time off helped a lot, because coming off two losses, we needed to settle down and re-evaluate what we’re doing in practice and in games,” Moller said. “We focused on our formation and keeping the ball instead of just lobbing it up to the forwards, and really figured out which players we’re going to go at.”
Part of that focus on offense centers on McCrary. The freshman scored his first two goals of the season in his past three games. Bluem has said all season that McCrary is adjusting to a new position at center-forward, but McCrary said he feels more comfortable now.
“Playing up top now, it’s definitely a change,” McCrary said. “I’m used to playing wide. Playing up top, there’s more to expect, being alone up top, but I think I’m definitely adjusting and definitely getting more used to the role.”
McCrary is set to showcase his new role against the Falcons, which OSU has battled in each of its last three seasons, going 2-0-1 in that span. The draw came last season in a scoreless match at Bowling Green.
The Falcons already have one victory on the road against a Big Ten team this season, defeating Michigan, 1-0, on Sept. 16.
Moller said regardless of the results of the past, he is sure the team is ready to show consistency.
“We’re 100 percent prepared to start this three-game stretch,” Moller said. “We’re done with being inconsistent, we’re ready for the rest of the season.”
OSU’s game against Bowling Green is scheduled to kick off Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.