The Ohio State men’s soccer team got a decisive 3-0 win over Oakland on Tuesday night, hoping to ride that momentum into Saturday’s matchup versus No. 7 Indiana at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m.
The key for the Buckeyes in their win over Oakland was their aggressive first-period play, something they hope to be able to replicate against the tough Hoosiers.
“We have been stressing the importance of coming out strong,” senior midfielder Ben Fitzpatrick said. “Whenever we have come out with intensity in the first half we have been dominant. Indiana is going to be a tough test, but we have nothing to lose. We just have to go out and give it everything we got.”
For the Buckeyes, it is the last Big Ten home game of the regular season. With OSU tied for fifth place in the conference, they still have time to make up some ground and finish with a top-four seed that would allow them to host a game in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
“All Big Ten Conference games are huge for us,” junior defender Niall Logue said. “Especially with Indiana being a top-10 team, to win the last one at home for us would be massive.”
The Hoosiers come into the game with an 8-1-4 record (2-0-3 Big Ten). In their last time out, they took down No. 4 Louisville 2-1 on the road.
Indiana is led by senior midfielder Tanner Thompson and redshirt senior midfielder Richard Ballard, each tied with 13 points on the season. Thompson and Ballard have each scored four goals while tallying two assists apiece.
Indiana is having a very successful season, with its only loss of the season coming in a 4-0 contest at Notre Dame. However, the Hoosiers are not a particularly dominant offense, coming into the contest with 17 goals scored on the season compared to OSU’s 16.
The real discrepancy comes in the goals allowed category. Indiana has been very stingy this year, allowing only 10 goals in 13 games. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have allowed 20 in the same amount of games played.
The two schools are meeting for the 60th time, Indiana having a massive all-time series lead at 50-7-2.
“The history of the matchup between these two schools doesn’t concern me,” coach John Bluem said. “This is an important game for both teams. They are trying to get into top two teams in the conference and we are trying to get into the top three or four. All conference games are pivotal and we will treat it as such.”
The Buckeyes will again be fighting the injury bug on Saturday, as they will be without junior forward Marcus McCrary and leading scorer and senior forward Danny Jensen. Neither of the two played in Tuesday’s win over Oakland.
OSU has a tough road ahead. After battling the Hoosiers on Saturday, the Buckeyes will travel to Louisville to take on the No. 4 Cardinals on Tuesday. The team is embracing this challenge, knowing it gives them a chance to show its true colors.
“The record doesn’t reflect who we are as a team,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we are better than that. If we can take Indiana and Louisville and get results, whether it’s a draw or a win, it’ll show the NCAA who we really are.”