When the Ohio State women’s soccer team kicks off its season against in-state rival Kent State on Aug. 19 in Columbus, it will be without one of its top players, senior forward Nichelle Prince. But it’s for good reason.
Prince will be busy representing her country in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as the Ajax, Ontario, native has made the Canadian National Women’s Soccer team. The final 19-person Olympic roster was announced Monday.
“It’s an exciting moment and something I’ve always dreamt of,” Prince said in a release from the university. “After a long eight months of preparation and hard work, it’s great to see it has paid off by being named to the team.”
Prince has earned 16 caps for the Canadian national team, including four during the team’s Olympic qualifying in February. In Canada’s 3-1 victory over Costa Rica to clinch a trip to Rio, Prince assisted on the team’s final goal.
In total, including appearances for Canada’s U-15, U-17 and U-20 teams, Prince has scored six goals and dished out four assists.
Last season, Prince helped guide the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. She tied for the team lead in goals and assists, with six and seven, respectively.
Prince missed substantial time with a leg injury during her sophomore season, but she was named to both the Big Ten all-freshman team and the conference’s second team after her first season in Columbus.
Canada enters the Olympic games as the reigning bronze medalists from the 2012 London games. It was the country’s first medal in a team sport since the 1936 Olympics.
The Rio 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament is scheduled to begin on Aug. 3. The bronze- and gold-medal matches are set for Aug. 19, which is OSU’s opener against Kent State.
Canada is in Group F alongside Australia, Zimbabwe and Germany. As of FIFA’s Mar. 27 rankings, Canada is ranked No. 10 in the world. Both Australia and Germany are ranked ahead of Canada, leaving Prince and her teammates with an uphill battle to advance out of group play.
“I look forward to representing my country and Ohio State in Rio,” Prince said.
Prince joins Kyle Snyder and Dustin Tynes as active Buckeyes who will be in Brazil. Snyder will wrestle for Team USA at 97 kg, while Tynes will be swimming for the Bahamas.
There could be more Buckeyes heading to Rio, as a total of 34 members from the men’s and women’s swimming teams qualifying for U.S. Olympic Trials, which are set to begin in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 26. It’s the fifth most out of any team.
The Olympics in Rio, which are officially set to begin Aug. 5, have been marred in controversy in recent months. There are numerous concerns over safety for visitors, namely over the Zika virus, a disease spread through mosquitoes that is roiling the country. Brazil’s government is also grappling with its longest recession since the 1930s.
Despite calls from more than 100 doctors and professors, as well as an article from the Harvard Public Health Review to suspend, or move, the Olympics over public-health concerns, the games are still set to take place.