OSU junior forward Nate Kohl (27) heads the ball in the second half against SIU-Edwardsville at Jesse Owns Memorial Stadium on Sept. 28. Credit: Michelle McDonnell | Lantern PhotographerFor the Ohio State men’s soccer team, home field has provided a much needed advantage.Coming into Wednesday’s game, OSU was riding a three-game home winning streak, averaging 2.67 goals per game while only allowing 0.67 goals per game over that stretch.The home cooking would sizzle out as the Buckeyes lost a back-and-forth contest against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 3-2, the first loss in their last four matches at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.“It was a hard night,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “SIUE is struggling a little bit like we are so they were hungry to get a win. It felt like we were playing against 12 guys tonight.”The momentum was hard to grasp in the first period, as both teams seemed to score at will.Just eight minutes into the match, sophomore midfielder Abdi Mohamed floated a cross from the right side of the net to the left that allowed senior forward Danny Jensen to slide in and bury just past the goalkeeper, giving the Buckeyes an early 1-0 lead.It was the fourth goal of the season for Jensen, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.The teams traded goals right up to the whistle. As the Buckeyes looked to take a 2-1 lead into halftime, the Cougars continued to fight and were rewarded for their efforts.In the last 10 seconds of the period, SIUE senior midfielder Gabe Christianson was able to get a header to fall off a corner kick from senior defender Andrew Kendall-Moullin, tying the game up at two a piece just before the break. The score would remain at 2-2 for most of the second period, but the Cougars would deal the final blow.With just two minutes remaining, SIUE junior forward Devyn Jambga took a heel-kick pass at the top of the box and launched the ball into the back right corner, handing the Buckeyes their first home loss since Aug. 28.The Cougars brought a couple familiar faces to Columbus.Head coach Mario Sanchez played under Bluem when the two were at Fresno State.“[Sanchez] was one of the best players I have ever had and I have been coaching Division I soccer for a long time,” Bluem said. “When he played for me he was a coach on the field and he is a very good coach now. I have a ton of respect for him.”Along with Sanchez, the Cougars brought to town a transfer from Ohio State, sophomore midfielder Greg Solawa. Solawa made five starts for the Buckeyes a year ago, appearing in 11 games.“It’s always fun coming into the game knowing that you’re going to play against a guy you used to play with,” said Austin Bergstrom, OSU senior defender. “You always want to be the one on top when the last whistle blows. Unfortunately, he got the best of us tonight.”Solawa recorded one assist in the game against OSU.Despite scoring both of their goals in the first period, the Buckeyes were statistically better in the second period, outshooting the Cougars 7-4 after getting outshot 7-3 in the first period.“I was happy that we did create more opportunities in the second half,” Bluem said. “I think we were hurt by some critical mistakes and that has kind of been the story of the season this year. We punish ourselves by making stupid mistakes.”The Buckeyes will have to find a way to fix their mistakes before Sunday, when they take on Big Ten foe Michigan State at home. While just 3-7 overall on the season, the Scarlet and Gray could advance to 3-1 in conference play with a win over the Spartans.“We learn the most from our losses,” Bergstrom said. “I think we just got to come out on Sunday and know that we can’t have any letdowns. We’ve got to go forward having our heads up.”
Binghamton junior forward Alex Varkatzas (9) slides into OSU senior midfielder Kyle Culbertson (3) for the ball during an August 30. match at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU lost 0-1. Photo Credit: Muyao Shen / Assist. Photo EditorThe Ohio State men’s soccer team is prepared to open Big Ten play in the third game of its four-game road trip at Toyota Park, home of the Chicago Fire.The Buckeyes are scheduled to face the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday in Bridgeview, Illinois, at 8 p.m.OSU (1-3-0) is coming off a two-game weekend road trip in which it suffered losses against No.17 University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Navy.The Buckeyes outplayed their opponent in the first half of the game against UMBC, but the Retrievers fought back in the second half.OSU fought hard to try and sustain the momentum it had going to get a victory, but UMBC proved to be the better team at the end of the game with a 1-0 victory over the Scarlet and Gray.“Against UMBC, we definitely should have won,” junior defender and co-captain Tyler Kidwell said. “I thought we had some chances and they had a few chances, but they put them away and that kind of was the difference.”The Buckeyes looked as if the first loss of the weekend had affected them mentally going into Sunday’s match against Navy. The Buckeyes struggled to compete with the Midshipmen, as they were shutout, 3-0.“I think maybe we were down from the tough loss Friday, and from the get-go, Navy gave a great effort and were all over us,” Buckeyes senior midfielder and co-captain Zach Mason said.Kidwell said that despite the two losses, the team will continue to work hard to get a win.“We have an extremely talented team, probably one of the most talented teams since I’ve been here,” Kidwell said. “We’ve just got to keep going and grinding it out.”Mason also said that the team is confident and will be fine as long as the players and coaches stick to everything they know.“We have all the pieces to win games and we have the philosophy so I think that as long as we stick to what we know and execute our game plans, we’ll be fine,” Mason said. “It’s a confident bunch, it’s just a bit of a hardship, but we’ll bounce back.”CLASS actMason was announced as a candidate for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award on Thursday. To be eligible for the award, a student athlete must show achievements in the following four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.“It is truly an honor to be nominated for the Senior CLASS award,” Mason said in an online release from OSU. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a student athlete at Ohio State and extremely humbled to be considered for such a great honor.”A committee will select the top ten finalists from a list of 30 candidates in October. Those finalists will then be placed on a ballot for a nationwide vote. One male and one female will be selected for the award and those winners will be announced at the 2015 NCAA Men’s and Women’s College Cup championships in December.Last season, former OSU goalkeeper Alex Ivanov won the award, joining linebacker James Laurinaitis in 2008 as the two Buckeyes to win for their respective sports.Looking aheadFollowing Friday’s action, the OSU men’s soccer team is scheduled to travel to Akron, Ohio, to face the Akron Zips on Sept. 16.
Ohio State redshirt junior cornerback Denzel Ward prepares for a play during the Buckeyes’ season-opening 49-21 win over Indiana on Aug. 31 in Bloomington, Indiana. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIndiana quarterback Richard Lagow made it clear early that the Hoosiers’ offensive game plan was to attack an Ohio State secondary that lost both starting cornerbacks and a starting safety from a season ago.For the most part, that plan proved effective as Lagow finished the game 40-for-65 in pass attempts with 410 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, even though Indiana lost 49-21.“Our defense was exposed big time in the first half. Our pass defense was awful,” Meyer said Thursday. “It was not complicated, they were just picking on the corners.”Playing against a quarterback in Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma on Saturday, Ohio State’s secondary is going to be in for another major challenge. Mayfield finished his team’s season opener 19-for-20 with 329 passing yards and three touchdown passes en route to a 56-7 beatdown of University of Texas-El Paso.Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said Monday that defending against an athlete like Mayfield could provide his secondary with issues, if it doesn’t step up its game from this past weekend.“[Mayfield]’s got incredible arm strength, and when I say incredible, he can really throw the ball down the field,” Schiano said. “He is most anxious when he has a little bit of space and he can let receivers down the field because he has a strong-enough arm to go roll over there and throw it all the way back over there. And you saw it in our game, he had a touchdown on us last year.”In its matchup against another gifted quarterback in Lagow, Ohio State seemed to get off to a slow start.Through the first half of the game, Lagow showed no hesitation, frequently passing into what had been a hyped up secondary for Ohio State. He targeted Denzel Ward — the third man in the three-man cornerback rotation last season — 10 times during the half and managed to complete three of those passes for a total of 29 yards and a touchdown, the first Ward had ever surrendered.By the time the half was over, Indiana gained at least 15 passing yards on eight occasions. Of those, five were allowed by the fresh-faced cornerbacks.“We gave up three plays of plus-25 yards or more. You can’t do that,” Schiano said. “They made some plays on us. In looking at it, it was a group of guys that have played some, but haven’t started, haven’t been in that role.”But the inexperience was not the only cause for struggles among the corners.Indiana’s leading receiver for the game, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Simmie Cobbs, trounced all over Ward and Kendall Sheffield — his two primary defenders — in the first half. He had no trouble leaping over the 5-foot-10 Ward and six-foot Sheffield, making acrobatic catches and back-shoulder fades as though it were nothing more than practice on his way to 98 receiving yards and a touchdown on just seven first-half receptions. He finished the game with 149 receiving yards with 11 receptions.Meyer said the difference in height can put a corner at a disadvantage, but that the gap should not be enough of an obstacle to allow for blown coverage.“Everyone wants a 6-foot-1 corner. There’s not many of them out there. We had Eli [Apple], Marshon [Lattimore] and Gareon [Conley] were all the long corners. Denzel, he’s not that small, but you have to be exceptional in technique,” Meyer said. “Obviously the vertical jump, to be able to knock a ball out, we practice the heck out of that. That’s much more difficult. Can be done, though.”And it seemed that in the second half, the gap in height seemed to have much less of an impact on the corners. With 10:11 remaining in the game, Lagow again looked Ward’s way to another 6-foot-4 receiver, Donovan Hale, and attempted to complete what would have been a 20-yard pass. But this time, Ward won the battle and came down with an interception.The improved play in the second half came not just from Ward, but also from the rest of the secondary. The unit held Lagow to just 151 second-half passing yards and one touchdown after he tallied 286 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air in the first half.“I was concerned a little bit during the first half, but I was pleased the way they rebounded in the second half,” Schiano said. “Hopefully they’ve got some experience under their belt now and we can move forward.”Schiano added that with the pressure of the position of cornerback, the unit will need to continue to exhibit a similar performance level moving forward if it is going to live up to the lofty standard set at Ohio State.“Around here, the standard is you don’t allow catches,” Schiano said. “When you play corner, it’s not the five you made that stick out, it’s the two you missed. And that’s the position. If you don’t like it, go play something else.”
The highly-rated Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella could be a subject of market war between a few influential European sides in the upcoming January transfer market.The author of an outstanding campaign with Cagliari last season, Barella, has drawn the attention of several major Serie A teams, including AC Milan, Juventus, and Inter Milan.However, according to the Il Mattino, Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis intends to grab the player in front of the competition with a tempting €30 million bid.Napoli aim to beat Liverpool, Spurs to €25M Barella signing Napoli are lining up a January move for Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella…. pic.twitter.com/djHloBkqldVirgil van Dijk praises Roberto Firmino after Liverpool’s win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Virgil van Dijk hailed team-mate Roberto Firmino after coming off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win against Newcastle United.— Boku Sport (@bokusports) October 5, 2018The same source also states that the player’s agent Alessandro Beltrami may have already taken the opportunity to discuss a thing or two with Gli Azzurri during the Champions League encounter with Liverpool. But, that’s not the end. He apparently also spoke with the Reds leaders that were present at the Stadio San Paolo.Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini must be the most enthusiastic patron in Italy, as considering all interested teams, Barella’s price can only go upwards.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery has revealed his delight at his team’s fast start to the game against Liverpool last weekend.One criticism leveled at the Gunners of late has been their slow start to football games and, since that was addressed during the club’s 2-2 draw against Jurgen Klopp’s side and Emery wants that to continue this weekend and beyond.“Against Liverpool I think we had more in the 90 minutes of the game,” he said, according to BT Sport.“Our idea is to repeat matches with this pace over 90 minutes. It’s not easy because other teams have their moments in the matches. But our idea is to continue improving this.”Merson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.“It is about the progress in the team. The progress is about continuing to create confidence and creating also tactically different ways to improve.”“The first thing we must do to improve is to continue with our way, with our positioning and our aggressiveness, with the ball and without the ball, and then taking confidence to do these things better every match.”“The confidence can come, firstly, from winning matches and then also from when you feel it on the pitch you have a capacity to battle against teams with the potential of (a team like) Liverpool.”