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Women’s soccer: Buckeyes prepare for final home conference matches

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Iowa freshman goalkeeper Claire Graves (1) can’t stop Ohio State senior forward Lindsey Agnew’s (20) shot during the second half in a game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sept. 25, 2016. The Buckeyes won the game 3-0. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Assistant Sports Director

Iowa freshman goalkeeper Claire Graves (1) can’t stop Ohio State senior forward Lindsey Agnew’s (20) shot during the second half in a game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sept. 25, 2016. The Buckeyes won the game 3-0. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Assistant Sports Director

A motto and mindset was established at the beginning of the Ohio State women’s soccer season to always get one percent better.  After a weekend of strong offensive and overall play, the Buckeyes have their eyes set on doing just that, Thursday evening.

The Indiana Hoosiers (5-7-3, 2-3-2 Big Ten) travel to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to face the Buckeyes (9-4-2, 3-2-2 Big Ten) at 7 p.m.

After a long but victorious weekend trip to Maryland and Purdue, coach Lori Walker said her team feels calm and refreshed coming into Thursday’s matchup.

“We were off on Monday, and yesterday we had a really good (practice) session,” Walker said. “The energy has been really good.  We’re excited to be back at home … it was a long trip.”

Thursday’s game comes during OSU’s fall break, which Walker said has brought a mental calmness to the players, resulting in crisp play where their focus primarily on practice and the game.

A focus in practice throughout the week for OSU has been that of precise play, especially coming off of a weekend scoring eight total goals, and defensively allowing just one goal.

“We’re always trying to get one percent better. That’s what we’ve said from the beginning of the year,” Walker said. “We’ve got to continue to be sharper with our passing, continue to be sharper with our runs in the box.  We have got to continue to be sharper with our clearing defensively out of our own box. As those things continue to start to clean themselves up, I think we are continuing to be a dangerous team.”

OSU junior forward Sammy Edwards was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, following her three goals in two games. Edwards said that her strong emphasis on teamwork, paired with a unified energy helped her strive over the weekend, has provided inspiration for Thursday’s game versus Indiana.

“We need these wins, and so I think this week helped a lot in getting our energy up there and our confidence up there,” she said.  “However, that (last) weekend’s over, and I think our focus again is just one game at a time, and that happens to be Indiana.”

Edwards continued to emphasize the presence of an energy and confidence going into Thursday’s match, also stressing a focus on defensive and offensive organization as a whole.

OSU’s defense held strong in it’s past two games, only giving up one goal within 24 total shots on the weekend.  The season’s motto finds its focus defensively, as the number of goals given up continues to decline.

“I think that as each game comes, we’re trying to get one percent better, as coach always says, so I think now, we did only allow one goal in,” said OSU freshman defender Haley Walker-Robinson.  “The goal is to not let any (goals) in.  I think that that will be a good thing to build off of.”

Walker-Robinson said her approach to improving one percent while facing Indiana comes from the desire to becoming stronger mentally and physically.

“Mentally for me, I think that I don’t want anyone to get inside of our box, maybe even 10 yards,” Walker-Robinson said.  “For our line, we have a ‘line of restraint.’  We don’t allow any nonsense in that area.”

Coach Walker praised the defense’s play throughout the past few games, crediting success to the emphasis of knowing responsibility in the defensive system.  

“You have to really work hard to create a goal and score off Ohio State,” Walker said.

The Buckeyes host senior day Sunday, as they welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-2-3, 4-1-2 Big Ten) to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m.

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