Womens soccer Ohio State looking for way past Northwestern defense

Ohio State junior forward Sammy Edwards (19) and Iowa redshirt junior defender Rachele Armand (16) leap for a header during a game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Sept. 25, 2016. The Buckeyes won the game, beating the Hawkeyes 3-0. Credit: Colin Hass-Hill | Assistant Sports DirectorThe Ohio State women’s soccer team continues conference play this Saturday as it welcomes Northwestern to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. This past weekend, the Buckeyes rebounded after a two-game conference slump, as senior forward Lyndsay Agnew’s three goals defeated Iowa 3-0.Northwestern (10-1, 3-1 conference) comes to Columbus as a strong defensive squad, having only allowed four goals in 11 games.  OSU had a week to prepare for Saturday’s matchup, which has helped prepare them for this next game. “We had finally a decent week to train, we had a full week off, only having this game this weekend so that’s pretty nice,” said junior forward Sammy Edwards. “But we’ve faced good teams this entire season so far so we’re definitely taking Saturday very seriously.”A primary focus the Buckeyes singled out this week in practice was the Northwestern defense. “We know they have a really good back line so just finding ways we can expose them and trying to look at our attack in that aspect is what we are working on,” Edwards said.The Buckeyes’ defense will be on alert all throughout Saturday’s game, as Northwestern has scored 20 goals on opponents, with an average of 15 shots and 2 goals each game.OSU feels they can overpower Northwestern by playing tough and remaining physical, according to senior defender Bridget Skinner.“I think the biggest thing is our communication. In practice we’ve been working a lot on when we’re supposed to slide, when we’re supposed to step,” said senior defender Nicole Miyashiro. “I think, as the games have gone on, we’ve gotten stronger and stronger at that defensive mentality.”Miyashiro’s matchup will be competitive in nature Saturday, but not simply because of the Northwestern attack.   “I’m pretty excited because one of my best friends from back home, I am going against one-on-one, and she’s a very good player on their team — a big impact player,” Miyashiro said about her matchup against junior midfielder Kassidy Gorman of Northwestern.  Both Miyashiro and Gorman played on the same high school and club teams back in California, creating a strong relationship that holds together in collegiate play.“We’ve always kind of just had this back-and-forth relationship where we’re not afraid to joke with each other, not afraid to go into tackles hard with each other,” Miyashiro said. “I know it’s going to be a great battle between the two of us just because we are so both competitive.”Miyashiro said she hopes this personal matchup provides extra inspiration for her own performance, along with the rest of the Buckeyes’ play Saturday. Miyashiro said she is excited for the opportunity at hand in competing directly against her lifelong friend. “I love it. I don’t think it’s a barrier at all,” Miyashiro said. “I think it’s something that I haven’t played with her for four years, so we get to kind of see how much we’ve grown and test that and see how we’ve changed in the college game.”The Buckeyes have confidence in their ability to keep up with fast-paced ball movement, which Northwestern presses throughout each game.  “I think it’s going to be a good matchup because we always seem to come out and play really well against teams that like to move the ball around,” Skinner said. “I’m pretty excited about that, so I think we have a good upper hand, but we can’t take them lightly because they are 10-1.”