RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The Ohio State University is paying a visit to the campus of the University of Rio Grande.
At least its men’s soccer team is.
The Buckeyes will square off with the RedStorm in an exhibition contest on Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m., at Evan E. Davis Field.
The contest will mark OSU’s first trip to Rio Grande in more than five seasons.
“We’re happy to get a couple of spring games in this year and to have Ohio State as one of our opponents, and for it to be at home, is pretty exciting,” said Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey. “(OSU head coach) John (Bluem) is kind enough to bring his team down to play us, which is something he’s done in the past. It’s a tremendous benefit for our program to play a top-level Division I program such as they have to see exactly where we’re at with our own program. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and the people will come out to watch some good soccer.”
Ohio State is coming off of a 5-8-5 finish in 2013 after a loss to Michigan State in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Buckeyes return the bulk of their 2013 team, which had just four seniors on the roster, including second team All-Big Ten goalkeeper Alex Ivanov and the duo of Danny Jensen and Tyler Kidwell, both of whom were named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Ivanov, a three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, finished the season entered the Big Ten Tournament ranked second nationally in stops, fourth in saves percentage (0.866) and sixth in saves per game (6.31).
Jensen led the team with nine points on three goals and three assists, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to upset Big Ten regular season champion Penn State. Jensen played in all 18 games for the Buckeyes, including 12 starts.
Kidwell played in 17 games, starting 15 times. He helped the Buckeye defense notch nine shutouts on the year, which tied for second in the Big Ten. Kidwell collected his first career point on an assist in a 1-0 victory over SMU.
Rio Grande is coming off a 16-3-3 finish last fall following a loss to Ashford (Iowa) in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA national tournament.
The RedStorm, which has qualified for the national tournament in each of the past 13 seasons and reached the Final Four on four occasions, including a national championship in 2003, returns a number of key players from last year’s squad as well.
Among the returnees are sophomore forward Luiz Filho, a first team NAIA All-American, and junior goal keeper Jon Dodson, a third team All-America pick.
Filho, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, led the country in both goals (28) and total points (59). He scored four goals in a win over rival Shawnee State on October 12 and recorded five additional “hat tricks” (three-goal games) over the course of the season.
Dodson started all 22 games in goal for Rio, allowing 20 goals and recording 45 saves in just over 1,841 minutes of action. He finished with a .692 save percentage and registered four solo shutouts among the team’s nine clean sheets this season.
Also back is freshman forward Pau Rodriguez (Barcelona, Spain), who had 15 goals on the season and who tied for the team lead with seven assists.
Morrissey said he’s looking forward to a big day on the URG campus.
“Folks around here get excited when they hear the words ‘Ohio State’ in regard to anything,” he said. “Again, we’re so appreciative of them being so gracious to provide us with an opportunity to evaluate our athletes. We’re really looking forward to it. Hopefully, we’ll have some people come out to watch who end up getting excited about soccer and who might want to come back to our campus in the future.”