A valiant effort against the No. 1 seed and defending champions came up short Sunday night, as the Ohio State men’s soccer team saw its season come to an end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
OSU (9-8-5) battled Notre Dame (12-4-4) for all 90 minutes, but ultimately the firepower of the Fighting Irish was too much for the Buckeyes to handle. OSU outshot Notre Dame, 12-10, but fell by a final score of 2-1 in rain-soaked South Bend, Ind.
OSU came out firing, looking to build an early lead against the defending champs. Five different Buckeyes fired the first five shots of the game, including two that came in on Notre Dame redshirt-senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall. The Buckeyes were unable to break through with their early attacks, though.
The Fighting Irish did not register their first shot of the game until the 23nd minute, when OSU redshirt-senior goalkeeper Alex Ivanov knocked away a chance with a dive.
However, about seven minutes later, it was a penalty kick that put OSU in a 1-0 hole.
Junior defender Kyle Culbertson was whistled for a foul in the box, earning him a yellow card and Notre Dame a penalty shot. The penalty was then converted by Notre Dame sophomore defender Brandon Aubrey, for his third goal of the season.
Refusing to back down, OSU made sure that deficit did not last long.
About three and a half minutes after Notre Dame took the lead, OSU sophomore forward Danny Jensen netted his sixth goal of the season.
Jensen received the ball in front of the net off a corner kick from freshman defender Hunter Robertson, and put it past Wall to knot the game at one.
OSU appeared to take the lead just before the half with a goal off a free kick, but it was waved off because of a handball. Jensen was then issued a yellow card, and the game went into the break tied at one.
For the opening half, OSU outshot Notre Dame, 7-4, controlling the action throughout. Wall made three saves for the Irish, while Ivanov contributed two of his own.
OSU continued to control the pace to open the second half, and had two close calls with shots from senior midfielder Yianni Sarris and Culbertson within the first 10:09.
However, that trend turned around in the 69th minute, when Notre Dame freshman forward Brandon Gallagher received a through pass and beat the OSU defense and Ivanov, depositing the shot into the far corner of the net to put the Irish up, 2-1.
OSU attempted to answer right away, but sophomore forward Christian Soldat’s shot about 90 seconds later was saved by Wall.
The Buckeyes tried one last desperate measure to find the equalizer in the final minutes, as OSU coach John Bluem substituted the defender, Robertson, in favor of an extra attacker. Notre Dame clamped down defensively, however, only allowing OSU one shot in the final 10 minutes, despite four OSU corner kicks.
Rain poured down throughout the entirety of the contest, with large puddles forming all over the Alumni Stadium pitch.
Aubrey’s goal marked the third-consecutive game for the Buckeyes in which a penalty kick broke a tie. On Nov. 14, a late penalty kick won the game for Indiana in the Big Ten semifinals, and Akron went up 1-0 with a penalty kick Thursday.
Notre Dame advanced to take on No. 16 seed Virginia with the victory.
The loss concluded a successful season for OSU after going 5-8-4 last season. The Buckeyes received an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2010, after being picked to finish last in the Big Ten in the conference’s preseason coaches poll.