Men’s Soccer: Ohio State looks to upset No. 5 West Virginia

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Ohio State then-freshman midfielder Laurence Wootton (17) moves the ball down the field during the Ohio State-Northwestern game March 7. Ohio State won 4-2. Credit: Christian Harsa | Special Projects Director

The Ohio State men’s soccer team travels to Morgantown, West Virginia, to square off with a top-tier Mountaineer team Friday.

After going winless in the IU Classic, the Buckeyes (1-2-1) had a common theme in practice: prepare for the defensive schemes of No. 5 West Virginia (3-0-1) and play a full 90 minutes of soccer. The Buckeyes look to bounce back through the efforts of junior forward Channing Chasten and senior midfielder Xavier Green.

The Mountaineers are particularly good on the defensive side of the ball, allowing an average of just 0.5 goals per game.

Head coach Brian Maisonneuve said the Mountaineers had great wins against Penn State and Pittsburgh and offer unique defensive schemes and formations.

“With West Virginia on the rise, they play a little bit different lineup. They play out of a 3-4-3 that turns into almost a 3-2-5 in attack, and they defend out of a 5-4-1 at times,” Maisonneuve said. “It is something different than we’ve seen, so we have been focusing on that as well.”

Chasten said the Buckeyes prioritized the Mountaineers’ defense so they can get a better understanding of their complex defensive formation.

“Today was a lot of emphasis on how West Virginia plays,” Chasten said. “They play in a 3-back, 5-back system, which we aren’t really used to, but the energy was good.”

In Ohio State’s last three games, they’ve blown one-goal leads — resulting in a 0-2-1 record in that span.

Maisonneuve added that the Buckeyes will need to play complete games with the lead.

“I thought we did some good things on Friday. We just had to tighten up a couple of things in terms of our pressure and lines,” Maisonneuve said. “We got to be able to close out those 1-0 games. We were up 1-0 against UAB, against Xavier and Creighton.”

Chasten said the Buckeyes gave all their effort last weekend, but they still need to put together a solid game for the entire duration of 90 minutes.

“We worked hard throughout the whole weekend, especially the Creighton game. I think that was a war,” Chasten said. “Something we can improve on is playing hard and clean for an entire 90 minutes. We have a quality 70 minutes but it’s that 20 minutes that ruins the result.”

The Buckeyes will look to have continued quality play from Chasten and Green against the Mountaineers as they have been scoring goals for the Buckeyes — they alone account for half of the team’s scores this season.

Chasten scored the first goal of his career against Creighton and while he said he looks to continue to capitalize on more opportunities in the future, the first goal felt satisfying.

“Honestly, it felt really good. It is like a big weight off my shoulders because I felt like I put the work in,” Chasten said. “I’ve had the opportunity at times my freshman and sophomore year, but to finally get that one feels like just wanting more.”

Green scored his second goal of the season against Xavier, and Maisonneuve said his work ethic has recently paid off.

“He works so hard. Since he has been here, he has been a little bit snake-bitten; the ball hasn’t found the back of the net for him,” Maisonneuve said. “To get him off to two goals in the first four games, it’s fantastic.”

The Buckeyes face West Virginia Friday in Morgantown, West Virginia, at 7 p.m.

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