Ohio State visits Robbie Stadium

Emily Wickstrom

Although Minnesota’s soccer team currently sits in second place in the Big Ten conference, it might be the underdog this weekend.

The Gophers will host Ohio State at 1 p.m. Sunday at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul as they look to win their sixth consecutive conference game.

Minnesota (8-4-2, 5-1-0 Big Ten) are the better team based on record – the Buckeyes have just two Big Ten wins compared with the Gophers five – but Ohio State has a more impressive recent history.

“We definitely need to beat Ohio State,” sophomore defender Hailey McCarthy said. “I think we can compete with teams like (No. 1) Penn State, so we can’t lose to teams like Ohio State, who we should be able to beat.”

Volleyball on the road

Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert refuses to call this weekend’s matches at Purdue and Illinois a tune-up for the following weekend when perennial Big Ten powers Ohio State and Penn State come to town.

“Purdue is a team that rarely loses in their own building,” Hebert said. “I believe that they believe they are going to beat us on Friday night.

One thing the Gophers haven’t struggled with recently is their bench production. Players and coaches are excited about the depth this team has compared with previous years.

But this has created a new problem – deciding a starting lineup – a problem many coaches would love to have.

Hebert has yet to decide who will start at the net on the right side, Kyla Roehrig or senior middle blocker Jessica Byrnes, who has seen a majority of the time on the right side.

“I think (the offense) is coming together much better now because we have more options,” junior defensive specialist Malama Peniata said. “We have a lot of depth so we can rely on anyone to come off the bench at any point in time and into the offense and be prepared and mentally into the game.”

C.J. Spang contributed to this report.