The Ohio State men’s soccer team is gearing up to play its biggest game of the season so far against the No. 3 team in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes (9-4-2) are preparing to face Rutgers (9-4-1) for the second time in program history at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Piscataway, New Jersey.
“We need to try to be as ready as we can possibly be come Sunday afternoon,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “The guys know what to do and they know the right things to do.”
Despite extending its winning streak to eight games on Wednesday, the first-place Scarlet and Gray struggled in its win against Cleveland State.
“We’ve got the bad one out of the way, and it’s coming to the end of the season and you know you’re going to have some hiccups in a hot streak and that was ours,” junior forward Christian Soldat said.
Soldat scored the game-winning goal with 13 seconds of regulation remaining to give the Buckeyes an extension to their winning streak.
The Scarlet and Gray defense — an area that has been stifling at time for other teams — has been critical throughout OSU’s winning. Oct. 7 was the last time an opponent scored against OSU, and Sept. 16 was the last time one pulled out multiple goals.
However, the Buckeyes are looking to improve their offensive attack heading into Sunday’s match after notching just one goal against the Vikings.
Bluem said if the team begins to pass the ball more and take the pressure off the defense, the Buckeyes will continue to dominate and force the opposing team to work harder in defeating the Scarlet and Gray.
Despite lacking firepower offensively, the Buckeyes have been on a hot streak and will prepare to face a team that is the next-hottest squad in the Big Ten.
“We’re just on such a hot streak right now and this whole team’s mentality is just getting every stride together,” Soldat said. “We know that when it comes down to it we will put one away.”
The first meeting
Last season, the Buckeyes hosted Rutgers for the first time, which resulted in OSU defeating the Scarlet Knights 4-1.
Then-sophomore forward Danny Jensen scored a pair of goals followed by one goal apiece from then-junior defender Liam Doyle and then-junior midfielder Kyle Culbertson.
Rutgers then-freshman forward Jason Wright found the back of the net to give the Scarlet Knights their only point of the game.
The Buckeyes controlled the entire game against Rutgers as OSU walked away with the blowout win.
Rutgers grabbed its fifth straight win against Army on Tuesday. The Scarlet Knights defeated the Black Knights in a 2-0 shutout, improving their record to 9-4-1 overall.
Wright — now in his second season — leads the team with 12 goals, which is second in the nation, and three assists, followed by sophomore forward Miles Hackett with six goals and two assists. Redshirt senior forward/midfielder J.P. Correa has chipped in four goals and five assists.
As a team, Rutgers is second in the country in goals per game with 2.43.
Senior goalkeeper David Greczek has played a little over 1,300 minutes this season and has a goals-against average of 1.11 and a total of 49 saves.
Following Sunday’s action, the Buckeyes are primed to return home to face Maryland at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.