When Jaylyn Odermann saw that Nebraska was flying into Georgia on Tuesday en route to the Big Ten soccer tournament, she checked the weather report.
The freshman from Millard North wanted to make sure the Huskers weren’t going to land anywhere near Sandy, the storm that wrecked havoc on the East Coast.
She was relieved to see that Georgia was in the clear.
“I’m not a big fan of flying,” she said. “It’s just the takeoff and landing. I get nervous and get quiet and grab the hand of whoever I’m sitting with.”
That fear of flying makes most of NU’s road trips unsettling. But it’s a price Odermann is willing to pay to play collegiate soccer.
“It’s definitely worth it,” she said.
This trip is better than most because the Huskers are back in the postseason after not qualifying for the Big Ten tournament last season. Odermann said she’s been hearing a lot about how exciting it is from the older players.
Seventh-seeded Nebraska (7-11-1, 4-7 Big Ten) will take on second-seeded Ohio State at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Armstrong Field in Bloomington, Ind.
Minnesota and Illinois open the tournament at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, followed by Penn State and Iowa at 12:30 p.m. Michigan and Wisconsin finish the first day at 6:30, with the winner from that game facing the NU-OSU winner at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The final is at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Buckeyes (13-4-1, 8-2-1) beat the Huskers 4-0 Oct. 14, though Odermann said her team kept it close until the end.
It’s a game she doesn’t like to think about.
“That was the worst game I played all season,” she said.
Ohio State is one of the more physical teams that the Huskers faced. After a couple of knocks, Odermann said, a team like the Buckeyes can take you out of the game mentally if you are not prepared.
Odermann wasn’t ready then. But she said coach John Walker has tried to prepare his team with more physical practices.
Instead of reacting to contact, they’ve worked on anticipating it. The Huskers will make sure they have a body on their opponents, too, so no one is running free.
“This time, I’m definitely ready,” Odermann said.
Though she’s a defender, Odermann is among several freshmen and sophomores powering the Nebraska offense. Of the Huskers’ 27 goals, 24 were scored by underclassmen.
Odermann has two goals, and said her first was such a surprise that she didn’t know how to react. After assisting on an early goal against New Mexico, Odermann took a pass from junior Stacy Bartels and smashed it in from 15 yards out.
It was so crowded, she didn’t know she’d scored until she heard the cheers.
“It wasn’t something I thought of being a defender,” she said. “Everyone was happy, everyone was texting me.”
The Huskers will need to strike quickly Wednesday. They are 3-1-0 when leading at halftime and 0-6-1 when trailing at intermission.
NU has produced as many as 30 shots twice this fall, and Odermann said the team knows if players keep attacking the goal, something good will happen. Mayme Conroy, a sophomore out of Omaha Skutt, leads the Huskers with 14 goals, and Odermann said she’s been playing well.
The entire team is feeling upbeat about its chances because NU has played many of the top teams close.
“We need to get our focus and realize we can win this thing,” Odermann said. “We have played them, we’ve seen what they are made up of and we just have to have the confidence.”
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