With four of the next five games at home, the Ohio State men’s soccer team knew if they were going to turn their season around, now would have to be the time to do it.
Against Big Ten opponent Rutgers, they got off on the right foot.
The Buckeyes dominated this Sunday, taking down the Scarlet Knights 3-1 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, their second win in the last three games.
“Especially with it being a Big Ten game, we took this very serious,” said Ohio State sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed. “We came out hard, we had a few chances. It was very important for us to come out strong and get this win.”
OSU received a rude awakening in their last match against Penn State, leading to a 4-0 deficit in the first half. This time, the Buckeyes were ready right out of the gate.
In just the 5th minute, Ohio State junior forward Nate Kohl received a through ball from senior forward Danny Jensen that Kohl buried inside the near post. It was his second goal of the season, which gave the Buckeyes an early 1-0 lead.
Later in the first period, senior defender Austin Bergstrom received a penalty kick. Bergstrom was able to beat Rutgers senior goalkeeper David Greczek on the left side of the net to extend the lead to 2-0, which they would take into halftime.
“The guys were very sharp in the first half. In the first twenty minutes we could have had several goals,” said coach John Bluem. “I thought our attacking play was very good. It was the positive start we wanted in the game.”
Ohio State began the second half a bit sluggish.
Just two minutes into the second period, Rutgers junior forward Ryan Peterson launched a corner kick to junior defender Niel Guzman, who was able to get his head on the ball and tuck it inside the far post to cut the Buckeyes lead to 2-1. It was Guzman’s first goal of the season.
Just when it seemed as though momentum was shifting the way of the Scarlet Knights, Mohamed was given a free kick from 20 yards out in front of the net. Mohamed was able to arc it high into the top left corner of the net, beating the goalkeeper and putting the Buckeyes up 3-1.
“They got a little bit of a reason to believe when we let them have a goal there early on. That is exactly what we didn’t want to do, of course,” Bluem said. “But another wonderful strike by Abdi. He can keep doing that all year long if he wants to. He is very good at those.”
It was the first time this season Ohio State was able to score more than two goals in a game. For Mohamed, it was his second goal of the season, both coming on free kicks.
The Buckeyes outshot Rutgers 16-7 in the game, holding an 11-2 advantage in shots in the first period. The team advanced to 2-1 in the Big Ten so far this season.
“We are more confident right now,” Mohamed said. “We know we have to win and get on a stride. We trust each other. We believe in each other and we work hard for each other.”
OSU will look to continue their winning ways this Wednesday, as they take on Valparaiso at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.