Full of jitters, freshman goalkeeper Liz Tamburro made her Ohio State field hockey debut Aug. 29 against fifth-ranked Syracuse.
Just a few months earlier, she was a senior at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown, Pa., barely less than an hour away from Philadelphia. But said she always wanted to go to a Big Ten institution at a large campus.
Tamburro said when she first visited OSU’s campus her reaction was: “Oh my gosh. This is the school for me.”
Her conversion into the college game was tough, she said, but it was something she adjusted to before the start of the season.
“I feel like the preseason was a great transition for me,” Tamburro said. “I had to change what I had to look for. It’s very different from high school. It’s faster.”
Once she was used to the speed of the game, she excelled. Tamburro saved 11 shots in her first game as a Buckeye, which allowed OSU to take the Orange to overtime before falling, 3-2.
She followed up her stellar debut with a 14-save performance against Albany on the road, ranking third most in a single game in school history.
Peanut Johnson, a junior forward for OSU, said Tamburro’s presence on the team is invaluable.
“She’s amazing. I’m so thankful she’s on the team,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what we’d do without her.”
Tamburro admitted she had jitters before her first game in a Buckeye uniform, but was able to shake it off for her teammates.
“I was really nervous for the first game honestly,” Tamburro said. “It was a matter of getting a few shots and getting used to it, then just being myself.”
Tamburro said her team is what drives her and keeps her focused when she’s on the field.
“My teammates gave me great confidence,” she said. “I felt like I had to do it for the team.”
The Buckeyes cracked the win column for the first time this season on Sept. 5 against Miami (Ohio) behind a 10-save second half from Tamburro. Junior back Emma Royce said Tamburro’s greatest skill is her ability to think on her feet.
“One of her strongest attributes is her reaction skills,” Royce said. “She has really good composure and communication with her defenders.”
OSU coach Anne Wilkinson echoed that sentiment.
“She’s a great leader coming in as a freshman,” Wilkinson said. “You saw her play. She’s quick. She’s agile. She likes to keep the ball out (of the goal).”
Tamburro credits much of her maturation to Wilkinson’s passion for the game of field hockey and her ability to motivate the team.
“She’s excellent. She’s like that motherly figure,” Tamburro said. “It helps us wanna do it (win) for her.”
Ultimately, Tamburro said her personal goals at OSU don’t go further than winning and doing her job well. She said if the team continues to work together, they could surpass a lot of preseason expectations.
“It’s amazing how much we gel together. We’ll definitely be able to go farther than last year,” she said.
OSU lost in its second game of the Big Ten tournament in 2013.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Ohio Bobcats Friday at 7 p.m. at Pruitt Field in Athens, Ohio.