The Ohio State field hockey team walked away from the weekend with its third and fourth consecutive wins after topping Michigan State and Ohio.
Sophomore back Caroline Rath scored the game-winning goal near the end of the first period against the Spartans (3-5, 0-1) in the Big Ten field hockey opener, which ended with a final score of 2-1.
The Buckeyes started strong when sophomore forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey scored less than four minutes into the game by converting off a penalty corner with an assist from senior back Emma Royce.
Just nine minutes later, the score was tied up 1-1 after Michigan State senior forward Mallory Tyler scored off a short pass in front of the cage with the help of teammate Heather Howie.
The offensive action continued throughout the first half when Rath bobbled off a penalty corner and hit a hard shot to the cage past Spartans goalie Sierra Patton with an another assist from Royce 32 minutes in.
OSU used its strong defense to its advantage as the team held the lead through the second half.
Sophomore goalie Liz Tamburro had three saves in the half, two of which occurred with less than 15 minutes left to give her a game-ending total of four saves.
Despite being outshot 13-7, OSU had five shots on goal, while less than half of Michigan State’s were on target.
The women of the field hockey team returned to the home turf Sunday at Buckeye Varsity Field against Ohio University (3-4), pulling ahead in the second half after a slow start for their fourth win in a row.
Senior forward Peanut Johnson, last week’s Big Ten Player of the Week, brought her offensive A-game by taking part in all three of the Buckeyes’ goals with two scores and an assist. The final goal was scored after she dribbled the ball into the circle and converted from five yards out.
Ohio started strong, scoring the first goal seven minutes into the first half thanks to a shot off a penalty corner by Clarissa Leikly with assists from Kristen Buchanan and Adele Sammons. The Bobcats held the lead until Johnson dashed past her opponents 23 minutes in for a backhanded shot past Ohio goalie Lina Trucco.
As the opening weekend for Big Ten play, Johnson said both her focus and determination were at an all-time high — specifically after the slow first half.
“Big Ten games are just extra competitive, especially because we all have the championship in the back of our minds,” Johnson said. “(Going into the second half) our whole attitude changed — we looked at it as a new game and said losing can’t be an option.”
The Bobcats took the lead again rounding off the first half with a goal from Maria Russel, but the Buckeyes gained momentum during period two. Nearly 40 minutes in, Royce tied up the score at 2-2 off a penalty corner with an assist from Johnson.
OSU coach Anne Wilkinson said the team came back with much-needed aggression and a winning outlook during the second half.
“The focus was we need to fight for every ball, and not sit back and give Ohio any opportunities. To me, we were not competing in the first half,” Wilkinson said. “When things started to go our way in the second half, we started to get our rhythm; we stepped up, gave a lot more effort and generated more chances.”
Royce said her drive to make the most of her senior season gave her even more determination to fight for the win.
“We, especially the seniors, put a little extra pressure on ourselves to just go out and execute when we had opportunities, and luckily we ended up doing that,” Royce said.
With the game tied up at 2-2, Johnson’s swift control of the ball gave the Buckeyes the winning goal with only 10 minutes remaining and gave her the team lead of 15 points on six goals and three assists.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Wilkinson said she hopes more than anything the team brings its drive to the field every time..
“I like our fight. If they can go out there and play tough, the results will come,” Wilkinson said. “If they don’t, at least they know they fought hard … I prefer that over anything else.”
The Buckeyes are next set to head to Oxford, Ohio, on Wednesday at 5 p.m. to face off against another in-state competitor, Miami University.