COLUMBUS, Ohio – Freshman Omar Vallejo could not have picked a better time to score his first collegiate goal, netting the game-winner in the 72nd minute to lead the 16th-seeded Ohio State men’s soccer team to a 2-1 win over Providence in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes advance to face the winner of top-seeded Louisville vs. College of Charleston, who kick off at 7 p.m. Sunday in Louisville.
Konrad Warzycha also scored in the match, converting on a penalty kick in the 58th minute, as Ohio State moved to 11-5-3 on the season and the Friars had their 10-game unbeaten streak snapped to conclude their 2010 campaign with a 13-6-3 record. The Buckeys also remained unbeaten at JOMS this season, improving to 8-0-1 on their home grass.
“[With all the issues with the wind in the first half], for us to get to halftime 0-0 was big,” head coach John Bluem said after the match. “We talked in the locker room at halftime about what we needed to do in the second half to get that goal that would put us ahead. It was a tough, physical game though. Everyone got tired today.”
Battling into the wind, the Buckeyes posted just one shot in the first half, while the Cardinals had five, including a potential game-changer late in the 24th minute. Louisville’s Matt Marcin was awarded a penalty kick, sending the ball towards the right side, but Matt Lampson made the easy stop, his second on a PK attempt this season.
From there, the momentum shifted and Ohio State controlled the ball for much of the remaining minutes of the period before heading into halftime scoreless. They regrouped, however, and promptly bombarded the Friars with nine second-half attempts that resulted in the pair of scores.
Warzycha struck first, scoring his team-leading eighth goal of the season, on his own penalty kick attempt midway through the 58th minute. The shot followed a flagrant foul to Sam Scales near the top of the penalty area and resulted in Warzycha’s fourth PK goal of the year.
The Buckeyes would stretch the lead to two nearly 15 minutes later when Vallejo came streaming down the right side of the field, beating the Friars’ back line before stuffing the ball inside the far post for his first career goal.
“I was very excited,” the rookie forward said. “The team always put it there all season I just couldn’t get it in. I wasn’t very lucky this season … It doesn’t get any better than scoring in the tournament.”
With the 2-0 lead, the Buckeyes stepped back on defense as the Friars continued to push forward. Lampson, who ended the day with five saves, made four in the second half and three within an eight-minute span to preserve the advantage.
The Friars would end up squeaking one through though towards the end of regulation. Greg Davis connected on a free kick from Andrew Sousa with a header that ricocheted off the right post and into the net for the first goal allowed by the Buckeyes in nearly 465 minutes of action.
This is the first true NCAA Tournament win for Ohio State since the 2007 season when it advanced to the College Cup final. In 2008, the Buckeyes played Oakland to a 0-0 tie in the first round before ousting the Grizzlies on penalty kicks. They went on to fall to Akron in a double-overtime thriller in round two. A year ago, Ohio State dropped a second-round decision to Drake.