OSU (7-5-3, 4-2-0) won its third straight with a blowout of Rutgers (5-9-1, 1-5-1), 4-1, in the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
Sophomore forward Danny Jensen scored his second goal of the season with a header just 36 seconds into the game. He took a high pass sent from the corner by senior midfielder Max Moller and put it high into the net.
Then, in the second half, Jensen wasted even less time before adding his second goal of the night – that one coming 29 seconds in. Senior midfielder Yianni Sarris left the ball behind him in front of the box for Jensen, who swooped in and put it into the near corner of the net to put OSU up, 3-1.
“Probably the most important thing that the team talks about is the first five minutes of every half is going to be what sets the tone, so we give everything for that,” Jensen said.
Jensen’s two-goal effort was the first multi-goal performance of the season for the Buckeyes.
“My teammates put me in the right position to score, and I finally put a few in the back of the net,” Jensen said. “It’s a huge monkey off my back. Especially coming toward the end of the season, winning games like this feels really good.”
After Jensen’s first goal opened up the scoring, the Scarlet Knights knotted the score in the 22nd minute. Freshman forward Jason Wright deflected a free kick from sophomore midfielder Erik Sa. OSU redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov was playing the free kick toward the middle of the net, so he didn’t have a chance to stop the deflection into the far corner.
The goal — which was his eighth of the season — brought Wright within one of the Big Ten lead.
“He’s a quality player,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “He’s scored a lot of goals this year and he holds the ball well up top. He’s dangerous.”
In the 36th minute, defender Liam Doyle gave OSU the lead back when he scored his second goal in as many games. The junior twisted a free kick from just outside the box into the upper-left corner of the net.
The score was Doyle’s fifth of the season, putting him into a tie with Sarris for the team lead.
The British defender has taken advantage of his chances when Bluem has called his name this season — three of his goals have come from penalty kicks, while the other pair came on free kicks.
“We do have a lot of confidence in (Doyle) to be successful with those penalty kicks and free kicks,” Bluem said. “I’m glad to see him get a free kick tonight, it was a beauty.”
The teams went into the half with neither Ivanov nor his Rutgers counterpart, sophomore David Greczek, making a save. Overall, OSU held the lead in first-half shots, 6-3.
Junior defender Kyle Culbertson put the exclamation point on the match late in the 65th minute with his third goal of the season. Culbertson received a feed directly in front of the net from senior midfielder Ryan Ivancic and simply poked his foot out to direct it in. Sophomore forward Christian Soldat was also credited with an assist on the score.
The win marked the first three-game winning streak of the season for the Buckeyes, as well as the second win decided by more than two goals – the first came in their previous game, a 3-0 victory against Bowling Green on Wednesday.
“It feels amazing, but you can’t relax,” Soldat said. “It’s the Big Ten, one of the top conferences in the country, so you can’t relax, but it feels great to be clicking.”
Jensen agreed that the team is playing at a higher level late in the season.
“We’re starting to understand each other a lot more and hitting our stride at the perfect time,” Jensen said. “It’s awesome.”
For the game, OSU outshot Rutgers, 11-6.
Ivanov was pulled from the game with about 17 minutes to go for redshirt-senior goalkeeper Andrian McAdams. That marked the first time OSU has played without Ivanov on the field since Sept. 20, 2013, against Dayton, when Ivanov had to sit out because of a previous red card – a game that McAdams started.
“Andrian is a soldier,” Bluem said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without Andrian McAdams. It’s very difficult to be a backup, especially when you’ve got a quality first-team goalkeeper like Alex Ivanov. But he is, without getting to play very much, one of the most important guys on the team, because if something happens to Ivanov, he’s coming in.”
OSU is set to conclude its regular season home schedule on Tuesday against Kentucky. That game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.