A victory over Dayton in penalty kicks earned the No. 9 seed Ohio State men’s soccer team a trip to the Sweet 16, where it will face eighth-seeded Stanford on Sunday at 8 p.m. in Stanford, California.
“I’m excited. I think the guys are ready to get to a little bit nicer weather and play out in a different scenery,” senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson said. “I think we are definitely ready for the game. We watched a little bit of (Stanford) vs. Santa Clara and we’re excited for the matchup.”
Despite their slow start to the 2015 regular season, the Scarlet and Gray managed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in program history.
“We’ve definitely stepped it up. The beginning of the year wasn’t desirable results by any means; we started 1-4,” Culbertson said. “But since then we’ve done really well to come together and put the effort out there and get some wins.”
Just like the Buckeyes, Stanford has been tough to beat at home, collecting a 9-0-2 record at Cagan Stadium. However, the Buckeyes are aware of what needs to be done in order snap the Cardinal’s home record.
“We should just stick to our identity,” senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer said. “We need to defend really well for 90 minutes, not give up a goal, and hopefully we can counterattack well and get a goal or two and come out with a win.”
The Buckeyes will have their work cut out for them, as they will be facing a team that is led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Jordan Morris, who has made five appearances with the U.S. Men’s National Team during the 2015 season.
“He’s a great player; there’s no denying that,” senior midfielder and co-captain Zach Mason said about Morris. “We’ve seen him on TV doing great stuff with the national team and we watched him play the other night. He’s got all the tools so we just got to work to limit his impact on the game and play our game. We should be all right.”
OSU coach John Bluem implied that Morris is not the one person on the team who the Buckeyes will need to stop, but rather the team as a whole because of its top-to-bottom talent.
He said the Buckeyes are going to try to keep Stanford in front of them and play deeper than what is normally seen of the Scarlet and Gray.
The Buckeyes know they are preparing to face one of the top teams in NCAA men’s soccer, but the Scarlet and Gray feel they are up for the challenge.
“On Friday afternoon we’ll be over there and see the stadium and where we’re going to play and we’ll have a good training session and get the flight out of us,” Bluem said. “We’ll have another day Saturday and get used to the time change and we’ll train on the game field itself so we’ll be familiar with the surroundings and the field and how the ball runs on the field.”
Stanford advanced to the Sweet 16 after a 3-1 victory over Santa Clara on Sunday. The Cardinal improved to 15-2-2 overall, while Santa Clara ended its season with an 11-8-1 record.
Junior forward Jordan Morris leads Stanford with eight goals and three assists, followed by sophomore forward Foster Langsdorf with six goals and two assists and sophomore midfielder Corey Baird with two goals and nine assists.
Junior goalkeeper Andrew Epstein has played 1,758 minutes and has a goals-against average of 0.67 and a total of 46 saves on the season.
The winner between OSU and Stanford will advance to the quarterfinals for a meeting with the winner of top-seeded Wake Forest and No. 16-seeded Indiana on either Dec. 4 or 5.