Following three straight road games, the Ohio State women’s soccer team (6-3-3, 1-2-2) returns to Columbus to take on the Purdue Boilermakers (7-5-0, 2-3-0) and the Maryland Terrapins (5-7-0, 0-4-0) this weekend.
The Buckeyes’ last game ended in a draw to Illinois last Friday.
Junior defender Bridget Skinner said the team can build off the momentum developed against the Illini, despite not winning the game.
“We finished strong, we didn’t get the ‘W’ in Illinois, but we finished strong playing-wise,” Skinner said. “I think bringing that momentum home and then having fans and all of our friends being able to watch will make it much more exciting and even drive that level of intensity up.”
OSU coach Lori Walker said she is impressed with the type of leader Skinner has become on the team this year.
“In the absence of (redshirt junior defender) Morgan Wolcott being on the field for us, I think Bridget Skinner has done a really good job,” Walker said. “Her voice against Illinois was outstanding. Her having that big voice and being bold and confident about what she’s instructing people to do, I’m really proud of how she has emerged to lead our back line.”
The Buckeyes open their pair of home tilts on Thursday evening against the Boilermakers. Skinner said physicality will be a vital first step in securing a win.
“For Purdue, we know they have a strong front line so we’re just going to come out and try to be the more physically dominant team and see where it goes from there,” Skinner said.
The Terrapins, who have yet to win a Big Ten game this season, come to town on Sunday afternoon.
Walker said the excitement surrounding this weekend will contribute to the Buckeyes’ home-field advantage.
“It’s also our official visit weekend so to be playing at home, to have our future recruits coming in, it’s an exciting time,” Walker said. “It’s Homecoming, so there’s always a buzz around the whole campus. So it’s easy to get up and be excited when you have that kind of buzz happening on campus.”
Preparing for two games over a four-day time period could prove to be a challenge, but sophomore midfielder Nikki Walts said she believes in the Buckeyes’ game plan.
“We just need to come out with all of our energy and put literally everything into these two games because these mean alot to us, (they) could break or make our season,” Walts said. “We’ve been preparing mentally and physically to be the better team.”
Walker said an emphasis on valuing each possession is being placed heading into the weekend. Additionally, the coach said the little details need to be addressed for the Buckeyes to win this weekend.
“So doing the littlest things like sliding, opening up your hips properly, running in front of the goalkeeper, we need to do a better job of,” Walker said. “We have the right people at the right places and we’re serving the right balls in but we’re just not executing that final piece.”
The Buckeyes and Boilermakers are set to kickoff at 7 p.m., while the match against the Terrapins is slated for a 1 p.m. start at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.