Although it was senior day for the Ohio State women’s soccer team, two freshmen stole the show. Freshman forward Nichelle Prince notched a hat trick and freshman midfielder Alexis Degler added a goal as the Buckeyes defeated Northwestern 6-1 Sunday.
“Today, finally we have gotten into a rhythm … and it just felt right,” Degler said. “We started connecting and scoring goals, especially in the second half.”
Five Buckeye seniors, midfielders Danica Wu and Kristen Niederhaus, defenders Samantha Lewis and Megan Fuller and goalkeeper Rachel Middleman all played their final game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium as members of the OSU women’s soccer team.
“I’m proud of what our seniors have done for us, and I think that was a nice way to send them out in their last game at the Jesse,” coach Lori Walker said. “What I’ve enjoyed about all five of them is what quality people they are.”
In the 12th minute, Prince had her shot bounce down off the crossbar. At first, play continued, but a few moments later officials ruled that it was actually a goal, giving the Buckeyes an early 1-0 advantage.
Prince was the source of offense throughout the first half, netting both of the goals for OSU in the opening frame. She reached double digits in goals on the year in the 30th minute, finishing from eight yards out to double the Buckeyes’ lead.
“Nichelle is just so special, and what I love about watching her is just the passion that she plays with. She’s so clean technically and so quick,” Walker said.
Despite scoring three goals, Prince said the improvement against Northwestern came from the team.
“Really it’s just like a team effort,” Prince said. “We’ve kind of been picking it up in the last two games, so it was good to get a few of those today.”
The Wildcats cut the lead to 3-1 in the 69th minutes, just four minutes after Prince’s third goal, as Northwestern freshman forward Addie Steiner finished a cross from two yards out.
OSU had an offensive burst late in the second half, scoring three goals in a little less than seven minutes. Degler started the run in the 72nd minute, chipping in a goal after Northwestern freshman goalkeeper Jenna Hascher bobbled a shot from Buckeye sophomore defender Marisa Wolf.
“I saw her kind of bobble it, and kept running at her and got the ball in, and took her with me,” Degler said.
Niederhaus and freshman forward Nicole Miyashiro added goals to give the Buckeyes six goals on the day. The six goals for OSU was a mark they had not reached since 2009, also on senior day against Indiana.
“It was really nice to come out here and get all the seniors on the field, get them all minutes and really give them a good way to leave Jesse,” Degler said.
The squad is next set to face Nebraska at 5 p.m. Friday on the road.