An intrastate game against a team with one of the top scorers in the nation turned into a laugher, as the Ohio State men’s soccer team had no problem at home Wednesday night.
The Buckeyes (6-5-3, 3-2-0) defeated Bowling Green (9-4-1), 3-0, to kick off a three-game homestand.
“We need to win games like this, our in-state games against the big-name schools,” senior midfielder Ryan Ivancic said. “This was a big win for us, decisively.”
About three minutes into the contest, a wild sequence around the net led to OSU opening up the scoring.
The Buckeyes took six shots in a roughly ten-second sequence following a corner kick. The ball ricocheted around, off of defenders, teammates, the goalkeeper and the goal posts until eventually being blown dead with a handball for a penalty kick.
“That sequence that we opened up the game with was amazing, wasn’t it?” OSU coach John Bluem said after the game. “All those shots hitting the post and them blocking the shots and ultimately a handball, it was wild.”
Junior defender Liam Doyle took the penalty kick and converted it with a dribbler straight ahead for his fourth goal of the season — the third of which that has come from a penalty kick. The goal temporarily tied Doyle for the team lead in goals with senior midfielder Yianni Sarris.
“Today I just decided to go down the middle,” Doyle said. “I just trusted and hard and low down the middle, and thankfully (the goalie) moved. I don’t really have a strategy. You just sort of decide penalty-by-penalty.”
In the 31st minute, Ivancic sent an aerial pass into the front of the box to sophomore forward Christian Soldat. Soldat endured a hard airborne collision with Bowling Green redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Heuton, who was sent off with a red card for the hit.
“When they played the ball to me, I chipped the last defender into Soldat,” Ivancic said. “Soldat, I think, got there first, and kind of chested out of the way of the keeper and the keeper took Soldat out. I thought it was a red card, if not it was at least a PK.”
The Buckeyes received another penalty kick from the foul, which was taken by junior defender Kyle Culbertson.
Culbertson’s shot was sent away by redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Nick Landsberger — fresh off the bench — but Soldat swooped in to poke the ball into the net off the rebound.
The goal was Soldat’s second of the season — coming in as many games.
The shutout came in large part because OSU neutralized Bowling Green’s most powerful offensive threat. Sophomore forward Pat Flynn had scored 12 of Bowling Green’s 26 goals coming in to the game. His goals per game average of 0.92 coming in led the nation, as did his points per game average of 2.08.
But Flynn was held to only one shot on Wednesday.
“We were aware of him coming in tonight,” Doyle said. “We knew he was a threat, and just defended well as a unit and managed to keep him quiet.”
The shutout was the second in a row and sixth of the season for OSU redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov.
The two penalty kicks accounted for the sixth and seventh attempts of the season for the Buckeyes — scoring on four. Their opponents have only taken one, which came in the team’s third game on Sept. 5.
“It’s just good, aggressive play in the box responsible for that (the penalty kick differential),” Bluem said.
Sarris put the exclamation point on the game in the 64th minute, depositing a pass from Ivancic into the net for the Buckeyes’ third goal. Sarris reclaimed sole possession of the team lead in goals with his fifth.
The frustration that mounted throughout the game for the Falcons was evident, as they were hit with two yellow cards in addition to Heuton’s red card. For the game, OSU outshot Bowling Green, 20-6.
Bluem chose to empty the bench as the game wore on. By the final whistle, Ivanov and sophomore defender Tyler Kidwell were the only starters still on the field.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to continue their homestand Saturday against Rutgers. That game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.