Aug. 17, 2011

Box Score

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s soccer team played Wright State to a 1-1 draw through 90 minutes of preseason exhibition action Wednesday night at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes have a second and final tune-up contest before the regular season scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday against Denver as part of the National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Freshman Kenny Cunningham scored the lone goal from the Buckeyes in the 38th minute and led the attack with four shots on the night. Justin Laired netted the equalizer for the Raiders late in the 69th minute and neither was able to come up with another despite a smattering of opportunities on both sides.

“We definitely needed a game to identify the problems that we’re having with the team this year,” John Bluem, 15-year Ohio State head coach, said after the match. “Building for the season, playing against each other in practice doesn’t help you very much. They were a good team to test us; we got to play all of our players and got to try a few different combinations. It was a good learning experience for us.”

A total of 22 players saw action for the Scarlet & Gray, including all three goalkeepers, as the coaching staff tested these combinations. Matt Lampson, the lone Hermann Trophy candidate in the Big Ten, posted a first-half shutout with one save before giving way to Alex Wimmer (1 ga, 2 sv, 28 mins) and Alex Ivanov (0 ga, 1 sv, 17 mins) for the second period.

After sharing possession for much of the first half of the opening period with Wright State, the Buckeyes maintained control in the later minutes and Cunningham’s goal finished off a stretch of four-consecutive OSU shots. The rookie forward from Brecksville, Ohio, collected a field-long clear towards the right side and lightly finished it off inside the far post.

Wright State came out of the intermission firing and registered its first shot in nearly 15 minutes of game action 40 seconds into the period, but Wimmer was able to make the stop for his first save of the night. Twenty-five minutes later, however, the Raiders converted on an opportunity and Laird knotted the score at 1 at the 68:58 mark.

Although either team produced much offensive momentum after the game-tying goal and the exhibition contest ended with a draw, Bluem saw reason to remain optimistic.

“Now that we’ve seen the guys one time in action, we know a little bit more about who can do what,” he said. “We know what players need to do better individually, we know what groups of players need to do better, and we know what the entire team needs to do better.

“Now you go to the next game, we have some chance to watch some film that we’ll work on. Mistakes that were made in this game will get better in the next game. The game is the test and now we go back to the classroom and study a little bit.”

The team’s next test comes Sunday vs. Denver before Ohio State opens the regular season against American and Siena at the Penn State Classic Aug. 27 and 29, respectively.