At a noisy Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Friday, the Ohio State men’s soccer team upset the 12th-ranked Butler Bulldogs 2-0 thanks to four saves from senior goaltender Keagan McLaughlin.
McLaughlin was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday after posting three – now four – straight shutouts. He said the award was more a reflection of the team’s defense and praised senior midfielder Brayden Durbin for stepping up this game in place of junior midfielder and captain Laurence Wootton.
“We only take one game at a time,” McLaughlin said. “No game is bigger than the next one, but obviously it feels good afterwards. Beating a top-12 team in the country sounds really good.
Head coach Brian Maisonneuve also said Durbin was “the man of the match”, playing excellent on both sides of the ball.
While both teams had several scoring chances – each capable of penetrating the opposition’s 18-yard box – neither was able to execute. Ohio State had four corner kicks against Butler’s zero and nine fouls against Butler’s seven.
Second-year defenseman Nathan Demian did not return after an injury in the 10th minute. Maisonneuve said he was unaware of Demian’s injury status, but believed he would be fine.
Both teams continued their energy in the second half. Six yellow cards, including four from the Buckeyes, were handed out in the second period.
However, the momentum shifted in Ohio State’s favor early in the half. After a slip by Butler’s fifth-year goaltender Gabriel Gjergji led to a goal for first-year midfielder Marko Borkovic.
Borkovic said he gained confidence scoring on his debut against Cal Poly on August 28 and tried to adapt to the higher physical game in the United States one game at a time.
“I don’t think about the future,” Borkovic said. “Just try to make an impact on the game and you’ve managed to do that so far.”
In the 70th minute, senior redshirt striker Devyn Etling headed in a corner from second-year midfielder Anthony Samways, giving the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead.
Etling said it was difficult to sit out through injury in the first four games but knew that when the opportunity for a corner presented itself he would execute.
“It kinda makes you hungry because you want to be out there,” Etling said. “I love the corners there at the end of some of those balls. So when I saw one of those, the opportunity, I was just ready to go finish it.
Maisonneuve said he was impressed with Butler’s ball movement in the first half, but knew what to expect in the second half.
“In the second half we knew what it was going to be like, so I thought from the start that we were better,” Maisonneuve said. “We want to press high, but their moves are so good that sometimes we just have to drop our block. That doesn’t mean we’re in low pressure, it just means our block is a little deeper. So, you know, I thought we figured that out.
Maisonneuve also said he liked his team’s aggressiveness.
“We talked about being aggressive,” Maisonneuve said. “What we focus on is the penalty shootout. You know, last year the percentage of shots on goal was very low. This year, things are much better. So that helped.
The Maisonneuve Buckeyes will face No. 9 Akron away Tuesday at 7 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium.