COLUMBUS, Ohio According to Ohio State coach Lori Walker, there could have been empty stands and this game would have been intense on the field. Fortunately, nearly 1,200 fans along with Block O, the band and Brutus Buckeye were on hand in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium to witness the Buckeyes deliver a 1-0 victory over Michigan to remain unbeaten at home in 2007 at 8-0-0.
Laura Roberts, one of six freshmen in the starting lineup for Walker, made her second career start a memorable one by scoring the only goal of the game at the 57:31 mark. It was fitting that Roberts scored because she played a complete game and was the focus of considerable attention by the Wolverines, who committed 12 fouls compared with 14 by Ohio State. Each team also was whistled for three yellow cards.
“Rocket, as she is called by her teammates, is just now getting back to being completely healthy, but she is so explosive,” Walker said. “She did a nice job tracking back defensively and she is so quick and so tough to guard that Michigan tried to foul her a lot.”
Roberts’ goal was set up by Ashley Bowyer and Lara Dickenmann. Bowyer intercepted a pass at the halfway line close to the team benches and passed to Dickenmann on her right. Dickenmann sped toward the goal and delivered a nifty through pass that Roberts and sliding Michigan goalkeeper Madison Gates reached at the same time. Gates could not gather the ball and Roberts blasted it into the net from about five yards.
Ohio State goalkeeper Lauren Robertson, who came away from the game with a bruise on her right cheek courtesy of a first-half collision, came up big in the final two minutes to record her fifth shutout of the year. She first stopped Jackie Carron by diving to her right to stuff the try and less than a minute later she made a save on a Kristin Thomas drive from straight away.
A physical first half a total of 14 fouls were called ended in a scoreless tie. Michigan applied the early pressure and sent its three first half shots in the first 20 minutes of the game. It was at the 26-minute mark that a Michigan forward and Robertson collided and Robertson was on the ground for about five minutes afterward. She ended up staying in the game.
Ohio State kept the pressure on for the final 25 minutes of the first half and finished with six shots, two on goal and six corner kicks to Michigan’s none. There were no real great scoring chances, though.
As the air temperature dropped, the second half play started to heat up and both teams had some real chances to score. A recap:
- At the 40-minute mark Michigan’s Sarah Banco got loose from a tangle of players and kicked a low shot on the ground that Robertson dove to her right and smothered with another Michigan defender bearing down on her for the rebound.
- At 22:35, Ohio State had a terrific chance on a set play. Carla Arbulu chipped a shot from just outside the box that Lisa Collison slammed in mid-air toward the UM goalkeeper Gates, who ended up making a terrific save on the play.
- One minute later Ohio Sate had another golden opportunity to increase the lead as a penalty kick was awarded after Michigan was called for a foul in the box. Dickenmann set up for the penalty shot and drove a low liner to the right corner that Gates guessed right on and made the save.
Michigan had the two more great chances inside of two minutes to play, but on this night and in this stadium, the Buckeyes came away victorious.
The win improved Ohio State’s records to 8-5-0 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten Conference. Michigan is now 2-7-3 and 0-3-2 in the Big Ten. Ohio State hosts Michigan State Sunday at 1 p.m. in a game televised (on a delayed basis at 8 p.m.) by the Big Ten Network.
Game Notes and Good Stuff:
- Freshman central defender Courtney Jenkins was particularly effective and disruptive against the aggressive Wolverines, winning numerous balls in the air and making some hard tackles.
- Ohio State’s freshmen have now scored 22 of the team’s 56 points.
- Laura Roberts is the ninth Buckeye to score a goal this year and the fourth freshman to score.
- Lara Dickenmann’s assist increased her school career record total to 30.
- Dickenmann is now in sole possession of second place on the career points list with 84. Lisa Grubb holds the record with 95.
- Ashley Bowyer snapped a streak of seven straight games without a point by making the first pass on Roberts’ goal. Bowyer is second on the team in scoring with seven points.
- Coach Lori Walker has been starting five freshmen this season, but against Michigan she started six. The results were, indeed, positive on the scoreboard and Walker also had this to say after the game: “This is the first time since the beginning of the season that we put 90 minutes of good soccer together.”
- That previous note about playing 90 minutes was not just a freshmen note. There were 15 Ohio State players that played in the game with every player having at least 22 minutes of playing time.
- The 1 p.m. game Sunday against Michigan State will be the first women’s soccer game televised by the Big Ten Network from Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The game will be showed on a delayed basis at 8 p.m. Sunday.