Ohio State men’s soccer opened up the 2021 season at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the right foot with a convincing victory against Memphis in the annual Wolstein Classic Friday.
Sophomore midfielder Laurence Wootton from Halstead, England, was named captain for the Buckeyes and a 30-minute lightning delay in the first half didn’t stop him from having an impact on the game. Wootton helped possess the ball and controlled the pace of the game, setting the tone for Ohio State.
“I’ve got a bit of an engine on me, so I like having the freedom to be able to make the runs forward and keep it up there or drop a bit deeper and possess it to try and settle things down,” Wootton said.
Just eight minutes into the game, the Buckeyes were fouled in the penalty box, leading to a penalty kick. Wootton took care of the rest, slotting the ball in the bottom left corner.
“The pen, it is you against the keeper,” Wootton said. “Heart in your mouth; I have always been a fan of blasting it and thankfully it went in. I was happy with that.”
After Buckeyes’ senior midfielder Luke Kiley committed a foul just under three minutes later, Memphis was awarded a penalty kick and midfielder Emanuel Santos struck the ball, tying the game 1-1.
Wootton’s contributions continued as his second goal came early on in the second half off an assist from sophomore defender Connor DesRoches, putting the Buckeyes up 2-1.
“I was in the right place, right time and followed it in. I did the hard yards and got another goal for it, so I was happy,” Wootton said.
Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve said that Wootton possesses excellent qualities that make him a great captain.
“On and off the field, his maturity, the way he sees the game, but most importantly just his personality and his willing to fight,” Maisonneuve said. “He is one of the hardest workers on the team and when you have your captain as one of the hardest workers, that’s a great sign.”
The Buckeyes extended their lead to 3-1 in the second half with a header-goal from senior midfielder Xavier Green.
Memphis cut into the Buckeye lead with a goal by sophomore forward Gabriel Christensen to make it 3-2, but it was too late as the goal came in the last 20 seconds of the game.
Maisonneuve stressed the importance of starting the season off well, but wants to see the defensive side of the ball be a bit crisper.
“I think anytime you start the season with a ‘W,’ it’s great,” Maisonneuve said. “Defensively, I thought we had to clean some stuff up. They were putting a little pressure on us at the end and I thought we dealt with it just OK.”
The Buckeyes return to action Sunday against UAB at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in the last game of the Wolstein Classic at 5 p.m., streaming live on BTN+.