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Ohio State enters conference tournament as No. 1 seed

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The Ohio State field hockey team isn’t satisfied with a regular-season championship.

On Saturday, the No. 5-ranked Buckeyes (15-3, 5-1 Big Ten) won a share of the Big Ten Championship, defeating Iowa 3-0. OSU split the Big Ten title with Michigan after both finished 5-1 in league play. It is the third time the OSU field hockey program has won the Big Ten Championship, with wins in 2001 and 2006.

The celebration was short-lived, however, as OSU quickly shifted its attention to playing in the Big Ten Tournament.

“It’s a new season, it’s postseason. We are 0-0 now,” junior back Jenn Sciulli said.

OSU will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament because of its head-to-head win over Michigan on Oct. 22.

The Buckeyes have a first-round bye and play the winner of Michigan State (14-4, 3-3 Big Ten) and Northwestern (11-8, 3-3 Big Ten) in the second round.

“The bye will be good because we will have fresh legs for the semifinals,” Sciulli said.

OSU enters the tournament as winner of nine straight games. The Buckeyes have out-scored opponents 39-4 and shut out five teams during the winning streak.

“We have a lot of confidence right now,” junior co-captain Aisling Coyle said. “We are definitely playing our best (field) hockey, which is what you want heading into the tournament.”

This year OSU will try to avoid another early exit from the tournament. In the 2009 Big Ten Tournament, OSU entered as the No. 2 seed only to be upset in the first round by Penn State, 2-1.

“Penn State was ranked last and we were expected to beat them, so I think we were a little complacent,” Coyle said. “We’re not going to be complacent this year at all. We will take every game as it comes.”

OSU coach Anne Wilkinson stressed the importance of keeping players focused and not becoming overconfident.

“They know it’s important to play one game at a time and to not take any (of) your opponents lightly,” she said. “You know you have to play your best every game when it comes to tournament time.”

OSU will play the winner of Michigan State and Northwestern in the semifinals Friday at noon. The Championship Game will be at 2 p.m. Sunday. Northwestern is hosting the tournament in Evanston, Ill.

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