Wednesday night’s contest did not go as planned for the Ohio State men’s soccer team, but the Buckeyes are now set to try to put it behind them and take on a top-10 foe.
The 1-0 loss to Oakland in Rochester, Mich., stalled the momentum of the previous week in which OSU topped two top-25 teams and seemed to be firing on all cylinders.
“We know we’re going to need to score some goals and we know we’re going to have to continue to do that if we want to be successful in the Big Ten,” senior midfielder Yianni Sarris said on Monday.
The Buckeyes will now have to try to rebound from that loss against No. 10 Indiana (7-1-3, 1-1-1) on Sunday afternoon.
The good news for the Buckeyes is that the game is set to be played in Columbus, where they are 2-1-2 this season — including a 3-2 victory against then-No. 17 Michigan State last Saturday.
“Playing on familiar turf and in front of your own fans makes the difference,” junior defender Liam Doyle said. “Home comforts.”
OSU coach John Bluem said the Buckeyes’ schedule is one of the toughest in the nation.
“Our strength of schedule is ridiculously strong,” Bluem said Monday. “With a (then) 4-3-3 record, to be ranked 13th in the RPI, that means your strength of scheduled is stupid.”
The Ratings Percentage Index, or RPI, which measures performance in relation to strength of schedule, recognized the tenacity of the Buckeyes’ foes. The RPI ranked the Buckeyes at No. 13, despite only receiving four votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
However, Bluem said he is not concerned with what the coaches’ surveys say, rather only focusing on the computerized RPI.
“The polls ultimately don’t mean anything,” Bluem said. “It’s the RPI that matters. The RPI shows you how well you’ve done against better competition, and the NCAA committee, when they select teams for the tournament, they pay attention to the RPI.”
Bluem pointed out that there are only two undefeated Division I schools remaining, and OSU has already faced both of them. The Buckeyes drew University of California-Davis (4-0-7), 0-0, in their opening game Aug. 29 and fell to Penn State (10-0-1), 1-0, on Sept. 21.
Bluem said he is glad to have the tests throughout the season, but wishes they didn’t all come clumped together.
“I wish maybe some of these games coming up were fit in between there and some of these were spread out a little more, but that’s not the way it worked,” Bluem said.
That trend is set to continue this weekend against the Hoosiers. Indiana is unbeaten in its last six matches, including wins over then-No. 8 Saint Louis and No. 18 Louisville in its last two.
While Bluem and several players have said that the team is trying to focus on taking the season one game at a time, Doyle said he realizes the impact of games played against Big Ten opponents.
“We try to take all games the same, but I do think the Big Ten conference does have a little edge to it because we know winning the conference is the main goal of the team,” Doyle said.
OSU has lost three straight games against the Hoosiers, with its last win coming on Nov. 7, 2010, in Columbus.
This weekend’s game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.