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Danica Deckard dominating for Buckeyes field hockey

After Danica Deckard’s first two seasons on the Ohio State field hockey team, she is beginning to emerge as a force to be reckoned with.

Deckard began to showcase her talent during the Buckeyes’ 2010 run to the Final Four.

Since then, she has used the offseason to improve and become a player opponents will game plan for.

“I really tried to work on specific fundamentals of the game,” Deckard said. “I have always had the speed, but it was more about working on my footwork and solidifying what I already did well to help myself become better everyday.”

Deckard was responsible for the goal that lifted the No. 20-ranked Buckeyes to a 2-1 win over No. 11-ranked Michigan last Friday. Her teammates have taken notice.

“(Deckard) had a really good freshman and sophomore year and now she is emerging as a scoring threat,” junior forward Berta Queralt said. “We are able to rely on her a bit more.”

Coach Anne Wilkinson said Deckard’s attitude has benefitted the team, but Wilkinson doesn’t want the junior to take on too much pressure.

“I want her to do what she is capable of doing and not have too much pressure on her,” Wilkinson said. “She loves to hear the boards and hit the back of the net. She is a team player who knows it is not necessarily all about her.”

Wilkinson said she thinks Deckard is finally finding her groove on the field this season.

“The first part of the season I think everyone was just getting adjusted on field and I think she is really starting to hit her stride and really being able to find the goal,” Wilkinson said.

After a two-goal performance against Michigan and posting 11 points in her last two games, the junior was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, which was her first award as a Buckeye.

“It’s a huge honor,” Deckard said. “Anything like that is a big deal, but I really couldn’t do it without my teammates. They are the ones setting me up to succeed.”

Deckard stresses that she could not be the player she has been without Queralt, the team leader in points and goals.

“When you play beside someone like (Queralt), she is the one who draws all the attention and that leaves me open a lot more. It makes things a whole lot easier,” Deckard said.

As the Buckeyes head into the heart of conference play, Wilkinson knows that Deckard and Queralt will draw pressure from opponents.

“I think our opponents know that they are dangerous,” Wilkinson said. “But they are scoring goals on set pieces, so they will be tough to stop.”

The team’s defensive play has also had a huge impact on its success over the past few weeks, including its current four-game win streak.

“The defense has been huge,” Deckard said. “They’re back there and they are coming up with big defensive saves and that is important if we want to win games.”

OSU looks to protect its position atop the Big Ten standings, where they are currently 1-0, but Deckard knows they must improve upon some things if a Final Four run is in the works again.

“We have to play all out through every game. We have been starting out strong, but sometimes we trail off in the second half,” Deckard said. “It will be important to play a whole game as a team.”

Wilkinson said that the cohesiveness of the team will be something that must stay intact through the remainder of the season.

“Everyone is playing as a unit together,” Wilkinson said. “That is what has made it so difficult for our opponents.”

No. 20-ranked Ohio State (6-5, 1-0) faces No. 13-ranked Indiana (7-2, 1-0) at 3 p.m. Friday at Buckeye Varsity Field.

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