Ohio State field hockey (4-7, 0-3) is coming off a win against third-ranked Virginia on Sunday, and the team is looking to continue to roll Friday in Piscataway, N.J., against Big Ten-newcomer Rutgers.
The win against Virginia got OSU back on track after a 6-0 loss to Maryland two days earlier.
Freshman midfielder Morgan Kile scored two goals against Virginia, including the game-winner in overtime. She said the team is beginning to play for the good of the group and that principle should carry over for the rest of the season.
“The difference between our (Maryland) game and our (Virginia) game was we just went in with the attitude that no matter what happens, we’re gonna play in the moment and for each other,” she said. “And I think that positivity carried us through that game.”
Rutgers (5-6, 0-4) enters Friday’s matchup with OSU after defeating New Hampshire, 2-1, on Sunday, but the Scarlet Knights have yet to pick up a Big Ten victory in their inaugural season in the conference. The Buckeyes have yet to win a conference game this season as well.
OSU junior back Emma Royce said despite its record, Rutgers will be tough to prepare for because of its unfamiliar style.
“It’s certainly a curveball because they’ve just been playing a different style of hockey for so long,” Royce said. “It’s different for us, but it’s also an advantage. They’re not used to a Big Ten style of hockey so in that sense we can have them on their back heels.”
No matter the challenge, OSU has an added incentive to defeat Rutgers on Friday, and then win again Sunday at home against Kent State (4-7). OSU coach Anne Wilkinson sits at 298 career victories — two away from reaching a career milestone.
Royce said Wilkinson’s passion for field hockey rubs off on the team.
“I think everyone wants her to get that 300 because she’s had such a long and successful career here,” Royce said about Wilkinson, who has accumulated 219 of her 298 career victories since coming to OSU in fall 1996. “Her competitive energy and her shear willingness to never give up on this team.
“We’ve had high points like Virginia, but we’ve also had low points where we feel like we haven’t played to the best of our ability. But coach Wilkinson never gave up on this team.”
The Scarlet Knights could still present a strong challenge against OSU, Wilkinson said.
“Rutgers is an outstanding team,” Wilkinson said. “I think (we) know it’s back in the Big Ten and anything can happen.”
OSU is set to face Rutgers at 1 p.m. Friday. If the Buckeyes can pull out the victory, they will have a chance to clinch Wilkinson’s 300th win at home Sunday at 1 p.m. against Kent State at Buckeye Varsity Field.
“I’ve had some great memories,” Wilkinson said. “I’ve had such a great experience. It’s been a lot of fun. All 300 of them, when that happens.”