The Ohio State men’s soccer team hosted its first conference home opener in a physical and intense game against No. 13 Penn State on Sunday and drew even in a 1-1 game.
“Sunday games aren’t always the easiest, but overall, it was just a grind-it-out game,” OSU redshirt senior forward Kenny Cunningham said.
The Buckeyes came out of the gate with intensity, firing shots immediately at the Nittany Lions defense.
Freshman midfielder Abdi Mohamed was the first Buckeye to attempt a shot, but PSU redshirt senior goalkeeper Matt Bersano came out with the save. Following Mohamed’s shot, junior forward Danny Jensen looked to score, but he went down hard when a PSU defender went to block his shot.
Despite early looks but no execution, OSU continued to battle the Nittany Lions.
OSU senior defender and co-captain Liam Doyle earned a free kick in the seventh minute but missed as his shot went to the far left of the post.
In the 17th minute, Cunningham broke through for the Buckeyes’ first goal of the game after an assist from Mohamed, giving the Scarlet and Gray a 1-0 lead.
“(Mohamed) dribbled through maybe three or four guys on the sideline, and I just made a near-post run and finished it off,” Cunningham said about the goal.
PSU earned a corner kick in the 25th minute, but it was saved by OSU senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer.
As tension built between the teams, yellow cards were issued to each side in the 42nd minute when a few words and pushes were exchanged between players.
Despite the yellow cards, the Buckeyes managed to keep the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard in the first half.
In the beginning of the second half, Jensen had the first look, but his shot went to the far right outside of the goal, leaving the Buckeyes with a one-goal lead.
Redshirt sophomore forward Sam Bollinger scored PSU’s first goal of the game in the 57th minute, tying the game one-all.
Not long after Bollinger’s goal, a yellow card was issued to the Nittany Lions, which resulted in a Scarlet and Gray free kick. Doyle’s kick sailed high and did not make any connection between the net, however.
Yellow cards continued to fly as the Buckeyes earned one in the 65th minute, giving PSU a free kick. The PSU kick was also missed, leaving the scored tied at one.
In the 70th minute, OSU sophomore forward Marcus McCrary had a good look, but he missed from the far side.
Jensen then went for another goal after PSU turned the ball over, but his shot was blocked from 13 yards out.
Doyle attempted a corner kick in the 82nd minute, but his shot was cleared.
About four minutes after Doyle’s corner kick, Jensen was issued a red card after receiving his second yellow card of the game, resulting in an ejection.
With only one minute left in regulation, Cunningham fired a final shot to win it, but Bersano made the save, forcing the game into overtime.
The Buckeyes were one man down heading into overtime, forcing them to change up their formation.
“We decided to go with 4-4-1 and sit back and play on the ball,” Mohamed said.
OSU managed to keep the Nittany Lions off the board as it came close to scoring in the 95th minute, but the shot was blocked by Mohamed coming across. Neither team scored in overtime, forcing the game to go into double-overtime, which ended with the same result leaving the final score tied at 1-1.
After sitting out the 2014 season because of an injury, Cunningham’s goal was his first one since 2013.
“I was extremely happy for Kenny. It’s always really tough to not be able to play your natural senior year,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “He worked hard over the summer time and came back completely from his injuries, and now he’s having a pretty good season.”
Mohamed has had a major impact to the team just seven matches into his college career, coming up with a goal and an assist, both in OSU’s last two games.
Bluem said Mohamed plays above his years and described his style of play as explosive and quick, while comparing him to senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson in that he’s a two-way midfielder — meaning he can both defend and attack.
The Buckeyes are now 1-4-2 on the season and 0-1-1 in Big Ten play, while the Nittany Lions move to 3-1-2 overall and 1-0-1 in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes are next scheduled to take on Dayton at 7 p.m. on Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.