Ohio State field hockey is set to face fourth-seeded and No. 17 Northwestern in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament, where the winner will move on to compete against top-seeded Maryland or eighth-seeded Michigan State.
Northwestern (12-7, 4-4) and OSU last met less than a month ago when they squared off at Buckeye Varsity Field in a game in which the Wildcats scored once in each half. Those two goals were enough to defeat OSU in shutout fashion, 2-0.
OSU hopes to increase offensive pressure this time around, coach Anne Wilkinson said.
“We can’t give up the amount of shots we’ve given up in the past,” Wilkinson said. “We haven’t generated enough attacks and been able to sustain them so we need to take more shots and challenge more of these goalkeepers.”
Sophomore forward Morgan Kile said one of the main components going into the tournament is putting all of the pieces together one last time.
“I think the key thing for our team going into the tournament is to put all the skills and things we’ve worked on throughout the season together,” Kile said. “We need to really show Northwestern what we can do out there.”
The Buckeyes will enter the tournament with three players being awarded All-Big Ten honors. Senior co-captains Peanut Johnson and Emma Royce, along with sophomore forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey, were bestowed the awards after their efforts this season.
Johnson, Humphrey, Royce and Kile have all registered double-digit points, with Johnson and Humphrey being the fourth-highest scoring duo in the Big Ten this year with 53 total points.
This year will be the Buckeyes’ 20th all-time appearance in the Big Ten tournament. Thrice they have taken home the Big Ten title. In 2001 and 2010, OSU was a co-champion, while it captured the outright crown in 2006.
The last time OSU and Northwestern squared off against each other in the tournament was in 2013. In that game, Johnson registered a goal and an assist, pushing the Buckeyes to a 3-2 victory against the then-No. 13 Wildcats.
In order to post another win this time around, Wilkinson said teamwork will be critical.
“The most important thing is we have to play together,” Wilkinson said. “Sometimes they take too much on themselves and put too much weight on their individual ability. We just need to rely on each other and play as a team, and the results will take care of themselves. We have to work hard, which they have.”
OSU and Northwestern are set face off at 10 a.m. on Thursday in Bloomington, Indiana.
- OSU has given up 18 fewer goals this year — 56 last season compared to 38 in 2015 — as well as allowing 21 fewer shots (280 in 2014, 259 in 2015) and 10 fewer penalty corners (124 in 2014, 114 in 2015).
- Sophomore goalie Liz Tamburro finished the season with 124 total saves. She ranks second in the conference with 6.88 saves per game.
Game results when OSU…
- Scores first: 7-0
- Leads at the half: 5-0
- Trails at the half: 2-9
- Is tied at the half: 2-0
- Outshoots its opponent: 4-3
- Is outshot: 5-6
- Is in a one-goal game: 4-2
- Is in a two-goal game: 5-7
- Heads to overtime: 1-1