Around the Oval

By Jeremy Birmingham on August 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Cunningham Gets On The BoardKenny Cunningham

Ohio State operates the NCAA's second-largest athletic department. Eleven Warriors is committed to keeping you informed of what's happening with those sports that make Ohio State athletics more than just football and basketball. Around the Oval will be your weekly update on these teams.

This week we check in with three nationally-ranked Buckeye teams and how they fared in their opening slate of games.


The 2011 version of the Ohio State men’s soccer team began its regular season schedule this past Saturday against the American University Eagles in State College, PA at the Penn State Classic. The Buckeyes, who begin the season as the nation’s 15th ranked team, came out shooting, peppering the net to the tune of a 17 to 3 shot advantage over the Eagles in the first half of the game.

What the Eagles lacked in chances they made up in productivity, however, and took a one goal lead into intermission, thanks to Seth Goldman’s header in the 32nd minute.  Ohio State came out of the half energized and leveled the match at one goal a piece with just under eight minutes left in regulation. The Buckeyes persisted, and had three more shots at a winning goal before regular time ended with the game knotted at one. Two overtime periods later, despite five more attempts on goal for the Buckeyes compared to the Eagles one, the season opener ended in a 1-1 draw.

The tie marked the sixth straight season opener for Ohio State without a loss, but was not the result that head coach John Bluem had hoped for. 

"We did not have a good first half.  I think we were tentative and didn't pressure the ball well at all and American was able to put together a couple good attacking movements, scoring on one. After the interval, we played better and controlled much of the second half and overtime. We are obviously disappointed not to win, but this gives us a really great starting point to improve on and get better."

Did the Buckeyes "get better" in Monday’s match against Siena? In a word, No.

The Saints took a one goal lead in the 33rd minute and the Buckeyes could not score an equalizer despite a whopping 28-7 shot advantage, including 12 shots in the last 20 minutes of the match. As the final whistle blew, the ranked Buckeyes found themselves on the short end of the 1-0 game

In their two matches to open the season, the Buckeyes amassed a combined 51 -14 advantage in shots, but only capitalized once. Undefeated in two games on neutral sites a year ago, the Buckeyes are no doubt looking forward to getting back to Columbus and putting their first notch in the win column this Friday, September 2nd at 7:30pm against Florida International University.


Another nationally ranked Buckeye squad, the women’s volleyball team, also started their season this past weekend. The 21st ranked Buckeyes traveled to Morgantown for the West Virginia Mountaineers Invitational. The four match tournament started Friday against Valparaiso. The Crusaders, while pesky, could not manage to win a set as Ohio State notched a three set sweep, 25-22, 25-16, and 25-22. Led by Kaitlyn Leary’s 12 kills, the Buckeyes got the 2011 season off to a rolling start. 

Mariah BoothMariah Booth kills it

Next on the agenda for the Buckeye ladies was the Wildcats of New Hampshire. It was again all Ohio State in this one, as the Wildcats were out-gunned from the start. When it was over, the Buckeyes had a 51-28 edge in kills, and a 47-22 assist advantage, rolling UNH in straight sets, 25-16, 25-18, 25-14.

Moving on to day two of the Mountaineer Invitational, Ohio State would face a bit steeper competition, but once again came out on top. In Saturday’s first match, the Buckeyes found themselves trailing Townson 7-6 early in the first set before turning momentum in their favor and winning the opening set 25-18.  After getting settled, the Buckeyes once again rolled to a three set win, topping Towson 25-16, and 25-19 to finish off the Tigers. Leary once again led the way for the Buckeyes, notching 14 kills in the victory.

Finally, Saturday evening brought the host Mountaineers in the finale of the Invitational for Ohio State. The Buckeyes struggled out of the gate as they had all weekend, but found their stride in the middle of the first set and finished with a 25-20 set one win. Buckeye Mari Hole, a junior transfer from UCLA, paced the Buckeyes the rest of the way with 19 kills, and Ohio State finished the tournament by wiping out the Lady Mountaineers 25-16 and 25-20 to win the Invitational. Hole and Leary were both named to the All-Tournament team for their outstanding and consistent play.

Next up for the 21st ranked Buckeyes (4-0) is the Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic, where the Buckeyes will get their mettle tested against some of the nation’s best teams; 10th ranked Hawaii, 11th ranked UCLA and 22nd ranked Long Beach State.


The Ohio State field hockey team also opened their season this past weekend. The sixth-ranked Buckeyes found themselves playing host to the Duke Blue Devils last Friday, and wound up on the short end of the stick, falling to the 15th ranked Dukies 3-2 in overtime.  The Blue Devils were in control most of the way, outshooting the Buckeyes 30-9 and 7-1 in OT before Devon Gagliardi notched the game-winner to give Duke the one goal victory at Buckeye Varsity Field.  Buckeye senior net-minder Ally Tunitis played valiantly in the loss, recording a career-high eight saves.

Sixth Ranked Field Hockey StrugglesField hockey drops to 0-2

Following the loss to the Blue Devils, the Buckeyes made another go at their first win of the season, this time hosting New Hampshire in a Saturday afternoon showdown in sunny Columbus.  The 82 degree weather was significantly cooler than the Wildcats, who came out scorching and took an insurmountable three goal lead into the half.

The Buckeyes would not recover.  New Hampshire was led by a terrific effort from their goaltender, Katherine Nagengast, who recorded 12 saves in the game.  Danica Deckard notched the lone score for the Buckeyes, who despite their lofty preseason rank, fell to 0-2 on the young season.

The field hockey team will try and get on the winning track Wednesday afternoon, when the Ohio University Bobcats come into Columbus.  Game time is 3PM EST.  Tickets are still available. 


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