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Freshman’s late goal lifts Ohio State women’s soccer team into Sweet 16

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OSU junior forward Nichelle Prince (7)during a game against Butler on Nov. 14 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 2-1. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

OSU junior forward Nichelle Prince (7)during a game against Butler in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Nov. 14 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 2-1. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

The Ohio State women’s soccer team (13-6-3) is headed to the Sweet 16 after defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies (15-4-2) on Friday afternoon 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Freshman midfielder Arden Holden netted her first career goal with 11 minutes remaining to keep the Buckeyes’ postseason run afloat. With the win, the Scarlet and Gray are headed to their third Sweet 16 in the past six seasons.

The beginning of the game was slow, as the first 15 minutes did not present many opportunities to score for either side.

In the 20th minute, OSU finally got to a solid opportunity in the final third when senior midfielder/forward Michela Paradiso tried to curl one in from 20 yards out on the left wing but it sailed over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, the Buckeyes had another opportunity to score when junior forward Lindsay Agnew sent a strong ball to junior forward Nichelle Prince, but a Virginia Tech defender cleared it away.

The Hokies, who entered the game as the 14th-overall seed, were able to generate a scoring opportunity in the 43rd minute when sophomore forward Alani Johnson sent one on the frame, but OSU redshirt junior goalkeeper Jillian McVicker made a lunging save to preserve the scoreless match.

The teams headed into the locker rooms at halftime tied 0-0. The Hokies led the Buckeyes 6-1 in shots, 1-0 on goal.

OSU came back in the second half with plenty of opportunities to score early on, but the Buckeyes simply could not find the back of the net.

In the 79th minute, the Buckeyes put the one and only goal on the board. Prince split two Virginia Tech defenders before playing the ball out to Holden who finished off the keeper.

Holden has appeared in 21 of the Buckeyes’ 22 games this season, but her game-winning goal marked the first time in her young career she has scored.

The final 11 minutes of play contained some opportunities for the Hokies to level the match, including a solid look off a free kick in the 87th minute, but they could not get past McVicker, meaning OSU was able to hold on for the 1-0 win.

For the game, Virginia Tech held a sizable lead in shots, 20-5, including 4-2 on goal. McVicker made four saves to earn her second clean sheet of the season for OSU.

The Buckeyes are set to play conference foe Penn State in the Sweet 16 after the Nittany Lions dominated Boston University in the second round, winning 6-0.

In the lone meeting between the two teams during the regular season, Penn State topped OSU 2-1 on Oct. 24.

With an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals on the line, the rematch is set to take place on Sunday in State College, Pennsylvania.  Kickoff is penciled in for 1 p.m.

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