The Ohio State field hockey team kept its dreams of a Big Ten Tournament title alive Thursday, defeating second-seeded No. 13 Northwestern, 3-2, in the first round of action at Buckeye Varsity Field.
The seventh-seeded Buckeyes advance to the semifinals of the tournament Friday to take on third-seeded Michigan State.
Three different players scored for OSU, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Wildcats closed the gap with two goals within five minutes of each other. Second team All-Big Ten sophomore forward Peanut Johnson recorded the only score in the first half, followed by goals from freshman forward Brooke Hiltz and fellow second-teamer senior midfielder Mona Frommhold after the break.
Despite two late goals by Northwestern, the Buckeyes managed to hold on for the remainder of the match for their first win against a Big Ten opponent this season.
Coach Anne Wilkinson said her team was successful because of its chemistry on the field.
“What really made the difference was that we played as a team and worked together,” Wilkinson said. “We executed our opportunities when we had the chance (and) we were able to put the ball away.”
After Northwestern’s back-to-back goals, Wilkinson called timeout to allow her team to regroup.
“I said, ‘Stay within our game plan and do what we do. Take care of it, recognize they are going to be putting more people up on attack so our forwards are going to have to find ways to win possessions and work with the clock,’” Wilkinson said.
Johnson said after the first two goals, she was confident OSU could pull off the upset.
“It felt amazing. Once we had a goal or two, we realized it was in our favor and we just had to work to keep it,” Johnson said. “It’s been kind of rare this season when it’s been in our favor so it was a great feeling.”
Hiltz echoed Johnson, and said the Buckeyes rallied together after their second goal to secure the victory.
“I was freaking out,” Hiltz said. “I think it really hit me that we’re going to do this and we’re going to make this happen no matter what we have to do. We all just pulled together really well as a team and we did what we had to do.”
Johnson said the team isn’t ready for the season to be over and the game was proof of that.
“We all just realized we didn’t want the season to end. It’s a great team dynamic so we are going to do everything we can to keep going,” Johnson said.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to play Friday at 12:30 p.m. against No. 26 Michigan State. Top-seeded Penn State is set to take on fifth-seeded Iowa first at 10 a.m. in the other semifinal match.