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Men’s soccer: OSU hopes to find a winning path versus Oakland

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Senior forward Danny Jensen advances the ball down the field against a UC Santa Barbara defender. Credit: Ohio State Athletics

Senior forward Danny Jensen advances the ball down the field against a UC Santa Barbara defender. Credit: Ohio State Athletics

After losing its past four games, the Ohio State men’s soccer team returns to Columbus looking to string together some wins at the tail end of its season.

The Buckeyes will take on Oakland University at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium this Tuesday, the start of a two-game stretch at home.

OSU fell victim to undefeated No. 1 Maryland on Friday night. Despite losing 2-0, coach John Bluem was impressed with how his team performed.  

“That’s a real tough environment to play in. To be down early and not give up and battle like they did for the remaining 70 minutes was a great effort,” Bluem said. “In the second half we outshot them and out corner-kicked them. We made some adjustments and I think we played really well overall. I was really proud of our guys.”

The Buckeyes have hit a bit of a drought in the scoring department — not scoring any goals in their last two contests. As a result, the game plan is going to have to change through the team’s remaining six games.

“We are definitely going to have to be more aggressive moving forward,” said senior midfielder Henry Chancy. “The time for sitting back is no more. We have to go after every team and get them on their heels. We have nothing to lose now.”

Oakland comes in struggling, much like the Buckeyes. At 4-6 on the season, the Golden Grizzlies had won three straight before losing their past two contests.

Oakland’s leading scorer is redshirt senior Chase Jabbori, who has netted three goals on only 10 shots through the team’s first 10 games. Jabbori is tied in points with redshirt freshman Nebojsa Popovic and junior Austin Ricci, each with two goals and two assists apiece.

The Golden Bears have been outscored 13-10 on the season, splitting time between two of their goalkeepers. Redshirt sophomore Zach Walker has gotten the bulk of the work, starting in 10 games while making 25 saves.

For the Buckeyes, it was announced Friday that Tyler Kidwell and Danny Jensen were named candidates for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award. The award is given to a Division I senior that has notable achievements in four different areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

“They are both really good leaders, strong students and great players,” Bluem said. “It says a lot for our university that we are producing these kinds of student athletes. I am happy for the two of them and proud of both of them. “

The OSU men’s soccer program has had the past two award winners, with Alex Ivanov and Zach Mason taking home the award in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

While excelling off the field, if the Buckeyes want to excel on the field, they know they must build off their performance against Maryland.

“If we keep fighting like that and play the way we did, we can get on a hot streak and show that even though we don’t have everyone healthy right now, it’s still possible for us to make a good run,” said junior defender Hunter Robertson. “This next game is crucial for us.”

Players and coaches alike understand that with just six games remaining on the schedule, they must put the past behind them and focus on the task at hand, even in games that are out of conference.

“We can’t have a letdown because it’s a nonconference game,” Bluem said. “We have to play with intensity right from the start. We are going to treat this game as if it’s a conference opponent out there. We are going to keep doing what we do well and hopefully we catch some breaks and get some wins.”

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