COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women's soccer team has released its 2016 schedule, head coach Lori Walker announced Monday. The Buckeyes, who finished 2015 with a 13-7-3 record and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16, will take on eight NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago.
“We’re fortunate the strength of our conference provides us the opportunity to have such a strong schedule,” Walker said. “To have such quality games throughout our schedule, especially in the second half, allows us to earn our way into the NCAA Tournament. I’ve always believed in order to be the best, you have to beat the best so we’ve gone out of our way to create a schedule that will challenge us. We have great senior leadership this season after having several seasons where we’ve felt very young. Our team is really mature and I think it’s the kind of year where we can benefit from being challenged in many different ways. Starting out with a scrimmage against Pittsburgh, they play a very physical style and are organized defensively so opening with that will really present some challenges for our attack.”
After the scrimmage at Pittsburgh Aug. 11, the Buckeyes open the regular season with home games against Kent State Aug. 19 and Wright State Aug. 23 before a trip to Florida to face Miami Aug. 26 and Florida Gulf Coast Aug. 28.
Ohio State then travels to Virginia Tech, who the Buckeyes knocked off in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2015, Sept. 1 and West Virginia, an NCAA quarterfinalist a year ago, Sept. 4.
“This is one of the tougher weekends on our schedule,” Walker said of the weekend trip against the Hokies and Mountaineers. “We did that because it mirrors the difficult two-game weekends we see in postseason play. That kind of challenge should put our players in some scenarios early on in the season that will best prepare them for the postseason.”
Non-conference play concludes with a pair of home matches against Texas Sept. 9 and BYU Sept. 12 before the Buckeyes enter Big Ten play at Wisconsin Sept. 16 and Minnesota Sept. 18. Three-consecutive home matches follow against Nebraska Sept. 23, Iowa Sept. 25 and Northwestern Oct. 1 before tilts at Purdue Oct. 6 and at Maryland Oct. 9.
Ohio State faces Indiana at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Oct. 13 before a Senior Day matchup with NCAA semifinalist Rutgers Oct. 16. The Buckeyes then conclude the regular season at Michigan Oct. 22 and at 2015 national champion Penn State Oct. 26.
Big Ten quarterfinal matchups are slated for Oct. 30 at campus sites with the semifinals Nov. 4 and finals Nov. 6 at the highest remaining seed. NCAA play begins Nov. 11.
A few notes on the Buckeyes' 2016 opponents:
Pittsburgh: Went 10-7-1 last season; led by fifth-year head coach Greg Miller, who spent 11 years on Walker’s staff at Ohio State
Florida Gulf Coast: Tallied a 14-6-2 record last year after winning the Atlantic Sun Tournament; fell to Duke in second round of NCAA Tournament
Virginia Tech: Went 15-4-2 in 2015, suffering a 1-0 loss to the Buckeyes in the NCAA second round
West Virginia: Finished last year with a 19-3-1 record, including a 2-0 win at Ohio State Sept. 11; 2015 Big 12 regular-season champion; fell to eventual national champion Penn State, 2-0, in NCAA quarterfinal
BYU: West Coast Conference champion posted a 16-3-2 record last year before falling to Stanford in NCAA second round
Minnesota: Went 12-7-3 a year ago before dropping a 2-1 decision to Loyola Marymount in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
Northwestern: Tallied a 14-6-2 record in 2015 before suffering a 4-0 defeat to West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
Rutgers: Went 19-4-3 last year, including a 2-0 victory over the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals; fell to eventual national champion Penn State, 2-0, in NCAA semifinals
Penn State: Posted a 22-3-2 record a year ago, defeating the Buckeyes in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, before knocking off West Virginia, Rutgers and Duke to win the 2015 NCAA championship