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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nikki Walts’ free kick goal in the 86th minute lifted the No. 24 Ohio State women’s soccer team over Dayton, 3-2, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday night at Bert L. & Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. With the victory, the Buckeyes, now 11-6-3 on the year, move on to a second-round matchup with top-seeded West Virginia Friday in Morgantown at a time to be determined.
"I think the first thing for us is that ugly was beautiful tonight,” Lori Walker, Ohio State head coach, said. “This was not our best soccer by any means, but I thought that we had three fantastic goals. Our team really fought hard and figured out a way to win.”
WALTS WITH TWO EARLY CHANCES
Less than nine minutes in, Walts blasted a low free kick from 25 yards that narrowly missed just outside the right post. Three minutes later, she gathered a Lindsay Agnew corner just outside the top of the box and fired toward the top-left corner but Dayton goalkeeper Kaelyn Johns ranged to her right to make the stop.
EDWARDS PUTS OSU AHEAD
Sammy Edwards then gave the Buckeyes the 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. The junior dribbled through the Dayton midfield and placed a shot perfectly past Johns inside the upper-right corner for the Ohio State advantage.
UD ANSWERS IN THE 45th
With less than a minute remaining in the half, Dayton’s Libby Leedom flicked a through ball through the center of the Buckeye defense to an open Alexis Kiehl, who was able to finish a one-on-one off a converging Devon Kerr to knot the match at 1-1 heading into the break.
FIRENZE’S CURLING STRIKE STOPPED BY JOHNS
Less than three minutes into the second half, an Agnew corner fell to Emma Firenze outside the top of the box, where the junior curled a shot toward the left post but Johns again came up to make a diving save to keep the match tied.
KERR COMES UP BIG AGAINST LIVINGSTON
Two minutes later, Dayton’s Micayla Livingston broke free in the Buckeyes’ final third for a one-on-one with Kerr but the Ohio State sophomore came out to deflect the shot wide before Livingston’s rebound drifted right of the post.
DAYTON TAKES 2-1 LEAD
In the 56th minute, Kiehl played a cross from the left wing toward Leedom at the center of the box, where she finished inside the right post past Kerr to give Dayton the lead.
AND WALTS QUICKLY ANSWERS BACK
Just 30 seconds later, Agnew found Walts and the junior from Scottsdale, Ariz., slipped her shot off the left post and in to even the score at 2-2.
PRINCE ALMOST GIVES BUCKEYES THE LEAD
Two minutes after tying the match, Walts played a beautiful through ball to Nichelle Prince but the senior’s shot on the one-on-one was deflected wide by Johns to keep it a tie game.
WALTS’ FREE KICK SENDS BUCKEYES TO SECOND ROUND
After the Buckeyes had continue to press forward after finding the equalizer, Firenze drew a free kick just outside the box with a little less than five minutes remaining. Walts stepped up and curled the shot over the Dayton well, past the Flyers’ substitute goalkeeper Jenna Ditusa and inside the right post for the 3-2 Ohio State lead before the Buckeyes were able to hang on for the first-round victory.
Shots: Ohio State 15, Dayton 9
Saves: Dayton 7, Ohio State 3
Shots on Goal: Ohio State 10, Dayton 5
Corner Kicks: Ohio State 4, Dayton 3
- Ohio State improves to 12-9-2 overall in its 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, all under the direction of head coach Lori Walker.
- The Buckeyes are playing in their seventh NCAA Tournament in the last eight seasons.
- The Buckeyes improved to 5-0-0 on the year when Edwards scores a goal and 2-0-1 when Walts finds the back of the net.
- Ohio State is 10-0-1 when scoring first this season.
- The Buckeyes are 26-1-2 when scoring at least two goals dating back to Oct. 17, 2013. Ohio State is 10-1-1 when scoring at least twice in 2016.
Ohio State head coach Lori Walker
On tonight’s finish
“I think the first thing for us is that ugly was beautiful tonight. This was not our best soccer by any means, but I thought that we had three fantastic goals. Our team really fought hard and figured out a way to win.”
On the team's resiliency
“I felt that coming out of halftime, the response was fantastic. We had two or three opportunities right out of the gate. We have struggled out of the half at times, so it was really great for us to be able to push through that and make those chances. I really felt like we fought through that time and I think that is something we can carry forward with us.”
Ohio State junior forward Sammy Edwards
On her goal
“After the goal, I just think we pretty excited. I think we were a little hectic at the beginning but, then after the goal, I think we just really wanted to see through the win. After the goal, I looked at Lindsay (Agnew), and I could just see it in her eyes she was happy we scored but we weren't going to stop there.”
Ohio State junior midfielder Nikki Walts
On her game winning goal
“I picked up the ball and just focused in. I knew I needed to score for our team because we wanted it so bad. We wanted to advance to play West Virginia and we did. We definitely needed this win.”
Dayton head coach Mike Tucker
On how proud he is of his team
“I’m incredibly proud of these young women. From where we were three or four weeks ago to now took an incredible amount of want from them and really all year it has just been amazing.”
Dayton senior forward Meghan Blank
On the game
“It was tough. I don’t think anyone really thought we would be a contender in this game but we really proved that wrong tonight. I think that it was a battle from the very beginning and neither team ever let up.”
On the goal at the end of the half
“I think that really helped set us forward in the second half. That goal kind of put the game back in balance and gave us a lot of confidence.”
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