Ohio State field hockey opened its 2014 campaign with a pair of tough losses against No. 5 Syracuse and unranked Albany.
The Buckeyes hung tough with the Orange at home Friday, losing 3-2 in overtime following a fierce comeback. They couldn’t rebound Monday, however, as they were shutout, 4-0, on the road in Albany, N.Y.
After trailing for most of the game Friday, the Buckeyes scored two goals within nine minutes to force overtime against the Orange. Syracuse junior forward Emma Russell then sealed the game with a shot from close range off a rebound in overtime.
OSU appeared outmatched early, but managed to fight back late behind its veteran leadership.
“I think the first half was our eye-opener,” senior midfielder Kaitlyn Wagner said. “But we’re a young team and realized we were getting bullied around.”
The Buckeyes struggled to move the ball into scoring position in the first half when they were outshot 17-2 in the first 35 minutes of play.
The majority of the action was played on OSU’s side of the field, but freshman goalkeeper Liz Tamburro kept her team alive in her debut, recording five first half saves, which allowed her teammates to strike back late.
“She made some incredible saves, and every time a goalie makes a save like that, it gives the team a lot of confidence,” OSU coach Anne Wilkinson said. “As a freshman, that’s a lot to ask.”
With 1:57 to play in the opening half, Tamburro’s shield finally cracked. Syracuse’s senior back Jordan Page broke free on the left side of the pitch and scored unassisted to give the Orange a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Things changed in the second half when OSU went on the attack. Junior back Emma Royce said the team was determined to get to any ball in question during the second period.
“We just decided that the 50-50 balls weren’t going to be 50-50 balls anymore,” Royce, a London native and team co-captain, said. “They were going to be our balls.”
The Buckeyes trailed 2-0 after an early second half goal from Syracuse junior midfielder Alyssa Manley, but OSU countered quickly.
Wagner scored on a penalty stroke after a Syracuse foul, and with more than 16 minutes to play, junior forward Peanut Johnson broke free and scored from seven yards out off a pass from freshman forward Maddy Humphrey.
Tamburro finished the game with 11 saves, tying with the seventh most in single game school history since 2001. The Orange outshot the Buckeyes 37-11 overall, and had a 13-3 advantage in penalty corners.
“Going into Albany, we need to attack more and dictate the tempo,” Wilkinson said after the loss.
But the Buckeyes had no such luck, allowing two first half goals from Albany sophomore midfielder Paula Heuser and senior midfielder Amy Nicklin.
Heuser converted on her second goal of the game in the second half, and freshman midfielder Anna Bottino scored on a fast break to cap the 4-0 shutout.
The Buckeyes will try to pick up their first win of the season Friday when they’re scheduled to take on Miami (Ohio) at Buckeye Varsity Field at 5 p.m.