Ohio State women’s soccer had its hands full against No. 9 Rutgers at Jesse Owens Stadium, entering Sunday with a 2-3 record against top-25 teams.
That trudged to 2-4, as the Buckeyes (7-6-1, 2-2-1 Big Ten) surrendered an early lead to Rutgers (9-2, 4-0 Big Ten), which battled back late in the first half to seal the 2-1 victory.
“We talk about playing complete games, the full 90 at our best,” freshman forward Kailyn Dudukovich said. “We played some really good soccer today, just being turned on, and we’re continuing to improve on that. We just need to capitalize on those extra chances we have.”
Coming into this game, the Scarlet Knights outscored their opponents 43-8 in 2021, but the Buckeyes ran an efficient attack in the first half, coming up with a goal by Dudukovich in the 15th minute assisted by junior defender Kitty Jones-Black.
Although the Buckeyes had a majority of possession in the first half, crucial errors in their defensive third led to two goals by the Scarlet Knights.
Senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri drilled a shot through the hands of senior goalkeeper Bailey Kolinski in the 35th minute to tie it, and sophomore forward Giana Romano followed that up in the 43rd minute to give Rutgers the 2-1 advantage at the break.
Rutgers attacked a lot early in the second half, but was unable to convert any shots on goal. For Ohio State, aggression was a huge factor early in the second half. No one was getting to the ball, but waited for Scarlet Knight defenders to step up instead.
However, Jones-Black started attacking a lot more and tried to create a spark for the Buckeyes’ offense. On several occasions, she used her speed to get past several Rutgers defenders, but was also unable to convert.
“I think I had to step up because we needed to put them under pressure and get the ball higher up the field,” Jones-Black said. “We can just go back to our basics, focus on what we’re good at, and come back stronger against Michigan State next week.”
Ohio State head coach Lori Walker-Hock was proud of Jones-Black’s efforts on the pitch Sunday.
“I think Kitty did a great job playing defensive midfielder,” Walker-Hock said. “I’ve seen her play a lot of places, but this was definitely one of the most complete games I’ve seen from her since she’s been here.”
Both teams stayed attacking throughout the second half, but Ohio State really stepped up their fight. Down a goal, the Buckeyes upped their offensive attack, tallying seven shots on goal in the second half — a much higher rate than the one they totaled in the first half.
Ohio State’s comeback charge fell short in the end, but Walker-Hock was proud of the fight her team showed Sunday.
“I think our team fought as much as they could,” Walker-Hock said. “We showed tremendous resilience to keep playing hard, and changed our shape late in the game to clog up our midfield and find ways to get at them. We just need to get healthy, take some rest, and get prepared for Michigan State next week.”
Ohio State next plays the Spartans Sunday at 1 p.m. in East Lansing, Michigan.
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