The Ohio State men’s soccer team is coming off a tough 2-0 loss to Bowling Green over the weekend, remaining winless on the road this season.
This Wednesday, the Buckeyes (3-6) return to Columbus to take on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (1-4-2) at 7 p.m.
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium has been very kind to OSU as of late, with the Scarlet and Gray coming into the match riding a three game home win streak.
“You always want to protect your house,” said senior defender Austin Bergstrom. “It’s good that we have been doing that so far, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.”
After wins over Rutgers and Valparaiso a week ago, the Buckeyes took a step backward over the weekend, suffering a shutout against Bowling Green.
Despite outshooting the Falcons 16-9, OSU again fell to the misfortune of its own mistakes, specifically turnovers.
“Sometimes it is a little frustrating when you can’t put the ball in the back of the net or when another team only gets a few opportunities and they are able to score,” said senior forward Danny Jensen. “We let the pressure get to us a bit. I think we just have to cut down on the mistakes and we will start to see much better results.”
Jensen was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after his performance against Valparaiso, where he recorded the first hat trick by an Ohio State player since 2012.
“It is cool to get some individual recognition every now and then but our focus is on the team,” Jensen said. “Right now we just need some more wins.”
The matchup with SIUE is a rare one, as both teams have only played each other once in school history, and played to a scoreless draw in Columbus in 2009.
While the matchup between the two teams is unfamiliar, the faces involved are not. Cougars coach Mario Sanchez was a soccer player under now-Buckeyes head coach John Bluem during his time at Fresno State.
“(Sanchez) was probably one of the top five players I’ve coached in my career,” Bluem said. “They are going to be really well organized and battle defensively. You are playing against a team that, much like us, is having trouble scoring.”
Saying the Cougars are having trouble scoring is an understatement, as Sanchez’s squad has only found the back of the net three times through the first seven games. However, the defense has stood tough, allowing only seven goals thus far.
SIUE’s junior goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo has 13 career shutouts. This year, Dal Santo’s .788 save percentage ranks him 51st nationally.
As the match signifies the halfway point in the season for the Buckeyes, Bluem feels the biggest improvement the team needs to make is in its mentality.
“This group has to accept that we are not going to just show up and win games. If we don’t outwork the other team, if we don’t outhustle the other team, if we don’t play harder for longer than the other team, anybody on our schedule could beat us,” Bluem said. “On the flipside, if we do those things, we will be in every single game and chances are good that we win more of those games than we lose.”
With a very important Big Ten matchup looming against Michigan State on Sunday, the Buckeyes will look to build momentum by grabbing a win against the Cougars.