Heading into another matchup with a Big Ten opponent, the Ohio State men’s soccer team will have the benefit of one thing it hasn’t had in weeks — rest.
The five days of rest between OSU’s 2-1 loss to then-No. 10 Indiana on Sunday and this weekend’s matchup at Wisconsin (2-8-2, 0-4-0) is the longest break the team has received in almost a month.
OSU (4-5-3, 2-2-0) senior midfielder Yianni Sarris said the team appreciates the time off.
“I think (the rest) is going to be huge for us,” Sarris said. “I don’t think we’ve had a full week of rest since the beginning of the year. We’ve got some guys injured right now, so hopefully we can get everyone on track and feeling better and be ready for Wisconsin on Saturday.”
Sarris said he is dealing with a “banged-up” knee but will use the week to recover in time for the weekend.
OSU coach John Bluem also said he was glad to see the break because of his team’s performance after time off this season.
“We’ve played well when we’ve had an extended rest and have had more time to prepare,” Bluem said. “Hopefully that will be the case again.”
Bluem said he gave the team a full day off on Monday after facing Indiana the day before.
The Badgers sit at the bottom of the Big Ten standings with their 0-4 conference record. However, junior defender Kyle Culbertson said he does not believe the Buckeyes can take Wisconsin — or any other Big Ten team — lightly.
“I don’t think we can relax,” Culbertson said. “I think there’s been a lot of things to show that our conference is pretty tough, through and through.”
Bluem agreed, saying that he expects every game on the Big Ten schedule to be a close battle.
“I wish I could say we could relax,” Bluem said. “But I think every team in the conference is capable of winning a game against anyone else. And certainly we’re one of those teams, as well.
“We’re going to be in all these games, they’re going to be close games. We just have to find, and do, whatever it takes to get a result.”
Preventing goals has been an issue for the Badgers this season. In eight out of 12 games, they have allowed two or more goals. However, OSU is tied for last in the Big Ten with a goal per game average of one.
Despite the Badgers’ record, Bluem had high remarks for his team’s upcoming opponent.
“Wisconsin looks like a very good team,” Bluem said. “It’s surprising to me that they’re 2-8-2. I know they’re a very, very young team, so hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of that.”
Wisconsin only carries three seniors on its roster, compared to 12 true freshmen.
Sarris said Wisconsin’s losing record is of no interest to the team.
“Our goal is to approach everyone like they’re a top-five opponent,” Sarris said. “Regardless if they’re ranked or not ranked, we’re going to treat them like they’re a top-ranked opponent because we can’t afford to lose any more matches.”
Sarris said he has no doubt the team will be unprepared for Wisconsin with that mindset intact.
“We will be ready,” he said.
After the game at Madison, Wis., OSU is set to begin a three-game home stand against Bowling Green on Wednesday. That game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.