Nov. 8, 2015
— Soccer on BTN (@SoccerOnBTN) November 8, 2015
COLUMBUS, Ohio – There’s no place like home. Behind senior Kyle Culbertson’s game-winning goal in the 93rd minute, the No. 18 Ohio State men’s soccer team defeated Penn State, 1-0, in overtime of the 2015 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals at Bert L. & Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. With their eighth-consecutive home win, the Buckeyes (12-5-2, 5-2-1 B1G) set a school record with their ninth home victory of 2015.
“Penn State’s players were fantastic and that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do to play two matches in 24 hours,” head coach John Bluem said. “Their spirit was good, their soccer was very good and it wasn’t until the second half that we were able to finally start getting on top of them a little bit. Hopefully we felt in time they would tire eventually and, eventually that’s what happened, they ran out of gas a little bit. It was a great goal and great individual effort by Kyle Culbertson.”
No. 1 seed Ohio State advances to the semifinals and host No. 4 seed Rutgers at 1 p.m. ET Friday as the two squads compete for a spot in Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship final. No. 2 seed Indiana takes on No. 3 seed Maryland in the second semifinal match at 3:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. All three matches will be broadcasted live on Big Ten Network.
Culbertson, a native of Columbus, Ohio and 2015 First Team All-Big Ten selection, buried in the team’s 22nd shot of the night into the back right of net at 92:07. Junior Austin Bergstrom sent a ball from midfield to Culbertson, who struck his third game-winning goal of the year from 12 yards out to punch the Buckeyes’ ticket to their second-consecutive semifinal appearance.
“I decided to drive right at them and hoped to create something,” Culbertson said. “First shot blocked and somehow went off my chest and fell nicely. Just tried to get it on frame far post and was able to sneak it past the keeper. Penn State is good and they came out fighting today. Our team has been fantastic all year and we’ve found ways to win at home. We are excited we get another chance against a talented Rutgers team next week.”
Despite outshooting the Nittany Lions, 14-2, and holding a 9-2 lead in corner kicks in the second half, the board remained scoreless through regulation. Christian Soldat hit the crossbar in the 69th minute before Abdi Mohamed had a header caromed off the right upright in the 79th minute. Penn State keeper Evan Finney made four-second half stops, including two saves during the 80th minute. A 12th OSU corner in the 90th minute was punched away by Finney to send it to overtime.
“We all felt like we were going to get one, we had so many near misses in the second half,” Bluem said. “I just kept encouraging the guys to stay with it, be patient, be calm, be confident and it will come our way.”
Defensively, the Buckeyes picked up their ninth shutout of the season led by Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Liam Doyle and Goalkeeper of the Year Chris Froschauer. Doyle anchored a backline that limited Penn State to four shots on goal, while Froschauer made four saves.
“Froshauer had some huge saves and the defense kept us in it when we weren’t playing well,” Culbertson said. “We knew we needed more energy in the next half. We definitely played better, had three balls off the post and could’ve gotten a goal. It just didn’t come until overtime.”
Both teams had good looks at goal in the first half. Bergstrom fired a strong shot from the top of the 18 in the eighth minute, but was saved by Finney. In the 18th minute, a header by Soldat went wide. The OSU pressure continued there minutes later when Culbertson sent a dangerous near cross in front of net, but was deflected away. The Buckeyes also had three corner chances, but couldn’t connect in the opening 45 minutes. Froschauer made four first-half saves and helped deny five PSU corner opportunities.
“Tonight was another win where we didn’t play our best,” Bluem said. “Whether it was nerves or whether it was overconfidence, we’ll have to address that with the guys because going forward now they are all knockout games. There’s been a lot of pressure on our team. We need to get back to let’s make this fun, let’s enjoy it, let’s enjoy the moment and let’s play as hard and as best as we can. We will have the results if we put in a good effort.”
Overall, shots were 22-10 in favor of the Buckeyes, while the Scarlet and Gray led in corners, 12-7. Froschauer improves to 12-5-2 on the season.