12 Mar Ohio State looks to rebound against Penn State
Ohio State is set to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in the first outdoor game of the season Saturday.
The Buckeyes (2-1-1) are back at home after a two-game road trip that resulted in a win over Maryland and a loss against Rutgers. Junior forward Kayla Fischer said playing Rutgers gave the team a preview of what to expect from the Nittany Lions (4-1).
“We know that they play similar to Rutgers and these two games are gonna be our toughest games of the season,” she said. “Having Rutgers this weekend has helped us prepare for Penn State. They played a different line of defense which will be very similar to Penn State.”
According to a preseason poll done by the Big Ten coaches, Penn State is projected to win the conference championship. The Nittany Lions have recently beat Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois and Northwestern. Their lone loss was against Rutgers in a close 3-2 game.
Senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri has scored in all of the last four games for Penn State. Buckeyes goalkeeper senior Bailey Kolinski said the main concern Saturday will be defending Tagliaferri and the rest of the attack.
“Penn State’s always been good,” she said. “We know that they’re gonna have good players out there so it’s about individual defending and knowing your job and the people’s jobs around you so that we can communicate and make sure that we don’t give up shots.”
Newly named captains and seniors Izzy Rodriguez, defender, and Marissa Birzon, forward, have been preaching the importance of communication and working together during practice. Kolinski said they have been influential in motivating the defense, which will need to step up in order to stop Penn State’s strong offense.
“They are great leaders on and off the field,” Kolinski said. “Our goal is to give up the least amount of shots as possible because no shots means no goals, so they’re really harping on us to get in position and make sure we’re covering so that even if one of us gets beat, we have somebody else there to make sure that they don’t get that shot off.”
Freshman midfielder Kine Flotre scored Ohio State’s sole goal against Rutgers, proving once again that the freshman class is something special. Six out of the nine freshmen have already seen the field for the Buckeyes this season, and their talent will be a weapon against Penn State.
“Their confidence is really something that we can all look at,” Fischer said. “They’ve just been amazing on the ball and they don’t bring the team down at all all. Even people on the bench that are coming in have been freshmen.”
The game kicks off at 3 p.m. Saturday and will be available for livestream on BTN+.
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