After losing out on some of the top recruits in the country, Ohio State women’s soccer coach Lori Walker knew her team needed to look into some alternative methods when it came to recruiting.
“A lot of times we’re going up against UCLA, North Carolina, Santa Clara, for the top personalities in the United States and we’d finish second a lot of times in recruiting,” Walker said. “We had to look at some other ways that we could find that talent because it’s the only thing that’s going to help elevate us to the next level, so going international was, I think, an appeal.”
This year’s roster carries four international players, including three from Canada, Lauren Granberg, Tiffany Cameron and Danica Wu, and Karin Sendel from Israel. Walker said all four players embody the type of talent the Buckeyes had a hard time getting to come to OSU.
“In Tiffany’s case, she just has some speed as an attacking player and personality and flare on the ball that we were finishing second in recruiting players from the U.S. with those kind of characteristics,” Walker said. “Karin, she understands the final pass, she’s got very good vision and is very technical on the ball. The ball kind of connects through her. Lauren, her size, her strength and her speed were very appealing.”
This season isn’t the first time sophomores Granberg and Cameron have played with Wu, a freshman. All three were teammates on Canada’s national youth team before rejoining each other at OSU.
“Having Tiff here was a good start, and through the year you get to know the girls very well and it kind of fades away,” Granberg said. “You don’t get really separated with the Canadians, you just mingle with everyone.”
Cameron said the experience on Canada’s national team played a major role in preparing her for collegiate ball.
“Our national coach is crazy. We had two training sessions a day and they were two hours long,” Cameron said. “He would just go after us and had high expectations for us, and I think it was just great preparation for here.”
Walker agreed that there are benefits to the players having national experience.
“Anytime you have the opportunity to play for your home country, it’s an honor,” Walker said. “The experience that you gain by playing internationally, and not having the same substitution rules as in college, deepens your fitness base, gives you a greater sense of mentality, and certainly playing the game at the highest level teaches you a lot about the game.”
The decision to recruit overseas has paid off this season for the Buckeyes, as Cameron is the team’s second leading scorer with four goals, while Granberg is tied for third with three goals. OSU (10-2-1, 4-0-0) currently sits atop the Big Ten standings heading into a matchup with second-place Wisconsin (6-3-4, 3-0-2) Friday.