After only winning two of its last eight matches, the Ohio State field hockey team looks to right the ship when it returns to Big Ten play against Penn State Friday.
OSU fell to Michigan State, 3-2, Sept. 28 in its last Big Ten game, before splitting a pair of non-conference home matchups, losing to Louisville, 6-3, and beating Ohio University, 2-1.
Coach Anne Wilkinson said Penn State is a quick team, but she is confident her players have been working on what they need to in order to pull away with a win.
“We really have been focusing on covering the space on the field defensively,” Wilkinson said. “Penn State is an extremely fast team, so not necessarily are we going to try to match their speed, but we really need to play very smart in the spaces that we are in.”
Wilkinson said penalty corners are vital and the focus in practice has been dedicated to finishing them.
“(We focused on) being able to execute our corners when we get those opportunities to really be able to put away our chances,” Wilkinson said.
Freshman forward Brooke Hiltz, named Big Ten Freshman of the Week Tuesday, said she hopes to use the win against OU as momentum for Friday’s game.
“We are focusing on (keeping up) the way we are playing,” Hiltz said. “We just played Ohio and played a really good game, so we are just working on bringing our game that day to the next game and not letting anything fall.”
Junior back Carly Mackessy said playing smart will be vital for the game against the Nittany Lions.
“We’ve been moving the ball around the back a lot just working with the midfield … we know Penn State is going to be tough so we want to work with pressure,” Mackessy said. “Our passing was definitely a good quality we had in the game and we want to continue to do that for the rest of our season.”
Hiltz said stronger ball movement has increased the team’s performance on the field and they have been continuing that in practice.
“Our passing was working really well,” Hiltz said. “We started to utilize everyone from the back, to the midfield, to the forward and we were really connecting.”
Wilkinson said it is time for OSU to turn its season around and focus on winning conference games.
“We are definitely ready to play, to really get after it and compete,” Wilkinson said.
Mackessy agreed and said she is ready to get back into the Big Ten schedule.
“It’s our second Big Ten game and I just want to go out there and win,” Mackessy said.
The Buckeyes are set to look for their first Big Ten win Friday at 3 p.m. at Buckeye Varsity Field.