Buckeye Men’s Soccer
The men’s team finished up their season with a 4-0 loss to Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. on Sunday, Oct. 31. With the loss, their overall record fell to 6-9-1. At 2-6 in conference matches, the Buckeyes failed to qualify for the eight-team Big Ten tournament, which begins on Sunday, Nov. 7 with Penn State as top seed.
The Buckeyes got off to a really rocky start to their conference play, losing their first five matches. As I’ve said in earlier soccer reports, the men’s team has had difficulty putting the ball in the net. Both their number of shots and the percentage of shots on goal would seem to point to more scoring, but the Bucks netted only 16 balls in their 16 games. They scored one goal in the loss to Maryland to start the conference schedule, and then were shut out the next four matches and, of course, were shut out in the finale at Rutgers.
As the season drew to a close, however, Ohio State showed some life. On Oct 22., the Bucks hosted league-leading Penn State on senior night and upset the Nittany Lions 2-1. Sophomore midfielder Laurence Wootton nailed a header from a corner kick, and senior forward Devyn Etling headed in another one off of a free kick. Going into halftime, Ohio State led 2-0. The Nits came on in the second half, applying offensive pressure that the OSU defense, especially goalkeeper Noah Lawrence, handled. The final outcome was a 2-1 Buckeye victory, but it was a nail-biter in the second half.
Next came the highlight of the Buckeye season: a win on Oct. 26 over rival Michigan, 2-1. Unlike the Penn State match, this one required offensive heroics at the end to earn the victory. Captain Laurence Wootton provided them, scoring the winning goal at the 89th-minute mark, again on a header from a corner kick.
In the first half of the match, senior midfielder Xavier Green put the Buckeyes ahead with a goal in the 18th minute. Michigan’s Kevin Buca tied it up 15 minutes later, and the score was 1-1 at the half. About midway through the second half, Ohio State took over the match and gained several scoring opportunities before Wootton finally put it in.
For the season, Wootton scored six of the team’s 16 goals. Green was second with four goals, and Etling had three. Time in the net as goalkeeper was shared by seniors Keagan McLaughlin and Noah Lawrence. McLaughlin collected 29 saves, while Lawrence had 25.
Ohio State will lose Lawrence, Joe Ortiz, Luis Hernandez, and four other players this offseason. They return, however, most of the starters, including the leading firepower. Looking forward already to next season.
Buckeye Women’s Soccer
The Buckeye women’s soccer team will need to wait until Monday to learn whether their season is also finished. That’s the date that the NCAA will announce the 64 participants in the championship tournament. With an overall record of 9-8-2 against a tough schedule and a current RPI of 41st, the Bucks cling to the hope that they’ll receive an at-large bid when the brackets are announced. Fingers crossed!
Ohio State’s conference performance during October was only so-so. They finished the crucial month of competition with a 2-3-1 record, beating rival Michigan and Northwestern and tying Wisconsin but also losing to Rutgers, Michigan State, and Purdue. Since only eight teams of the 14 competing in Big Ten women’s soccer qualify for the conference tournament, the Buckeyes might have felt lucky to sneak in.
Nevertheless, the 0-1 loss to second-seeded Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten tournament was a disappointment for the Buckeyes, but, given the circumstances, not unexpected. The seventh-seeded Bucks were without captain and leading scorer (points total: goals and assists) Kayla Fischer, who was serving a red card from the previous match and wasn’t eligible. Additionally, a number of key injuries left Ohio State shorthanded.
For the season, freshman forward Kailyn Dudukovich leads the team with seven goals, also dishing out three assists. Fischer has scored six goals and has six assists. Junior forward Emma Sears has netted five balls, while assisting on two other scores. Kine Flotre’s six assists tie the sophomore midfielder with Fischer for most, with junior defender Kitty Jones-Black right behind them with five assists for the year. Senior Bailey Kolinsky has played every minute of the season as the Buckeye goalkeeper.
Here’s wishing the Buckeyes that tourney bid and a long run, once they’re in!