Ohio State field hockey has earned the right to face top-seeded and No. 2 Maryland in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament after sneaking into the bracket because of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Indiana.
In Maryland’s first season as a Big Ten member, the Terrapins dominated the conference. Maryland (16-2, 7-1) finished the season on an 11-game winning streak, including seven against intraconference foes to finish as the Big Ten regular season champions.
Before Maryland took the reins of the Big Ten, the Buckeyes (6-11, 1-7) and Terrapins squared off Oct. 3 in College Park, Md., in a game where OSU kept the score tied for 25 minutes before the flood-gates opened. The Terrapins scored four unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half, and ultimately defeated OSU in shutout fashion, 6-0.
OSU is going to try to make changes personnel-wise to match Maryland’s versatility, senior midfielder Kaitlyn Wagner said.
“I think we’re gonna have to maybe mix our lines together,” Wagner said. “Say maybe a midfielder switch with an offender if the offender is tired. We need to layer our fitness and rotate around.”
OSU coach Anne Wilkinson said the biggest problem in the first matchup was Maryland’s ability to build a rhythm and keep pressure on freshman goalkeeper Liz Tamburro.
“We need to be able to break (their momentum) and you need to be able to possess the ball to do that,” Wilkinson said. “We’ll work on being able to keep possession in small spaces. And again, being able to get some production out of our attacks.”
Maryland took home four Big Ten postseason awards. Senior midfielder Maxine Fluharty was named Big Ten Player of the Year after leading the conference’s best team with 15 goals on the season.
Sarah Sprink, a junior defender from Neuss, Germany, received Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, while freshman forward Moira Putsch took home Big Ten Freshman of the Year after tallying 11 goals and six assists in her rookie campaign.
Maryland coach Missy Meharg was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for her team’s nation-leading 3.23 scoring margin.
Despite her 12 goals and 32 points overall, OSU midfielder Maddy Humphrey fell short in freshman of the year voting and did not make first or second team honors in the conference.
Humphrey said she was proud of her work ethic and added her awards snub will motivate her to work even harder in the future.
“I worked really hard this season and my stats are among the top stats in the Big Ten, so yes, I do believe I deserved a spot,” Humphrey said in an email. “Unfortunately, I am young and a new face so I just have to work even harder to be recognized.”
Junior forward Peanut Johnson was named second-team All-Big Ten for the second consecutive season despite Humphrey leading the team in points with 32 compared to 27 for Johnson.
OSU and Maryland are set to face off at Phyllis Ocker Field in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Thursday at 10 a.m. The winner is scheduled take on the winner of fourth-seeded Penn State and fifth-seeded Michigan State in the semifinal round Friday at 1 p.m