Freshman midfielder Maddy Humphrey stood at the opponent’s end of Buckeye Varsity Field, tied 2-2 in overtime against Ball State, looking for an opportunity to attack.
When the chance presented itself, she pounced.
Humphrey dove forward to steal the ball near Ball State’s goal and quickly dished it to junior forward Peanut Johnson, who promptly hit the back of the net for a Buckeye win.
Afterward, Johnson said she knew the pass was coming. She knew Humphrey would find her right in her comfort zone.
“There it was, just spoon fed,” Johnson said. “But definitely other plays I for sure know where Maddy’s gonna be and she knows where I’m gonna be. It’s super easy and fun to play together.”
The connection Johnson and Humphrey have goes beyond their time as teammates. As a junior at Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach, Va., Humphrey took her unofficial visit to Ohio State.
Her host at the time was Johnson, a Dayton, Ohio, native and second team All-Big Ten honoree in 2013. Humphrey said her time with Johnson let her know OSU was the right school to attend.
“She’s one of the main reasons why I came here, because it was such a great feeling,” Humphrey said about her visit with Johnson. “Right when I came here, I was like, ‘Yes, this is the place.’ And then when I got here for preseason, she just had open arms and was there for me, helped me out, and just pushed me.”
As a freshman, Humphrey leads the Buckeyes with seven goals on the season and ranks sixth in the Big Ten in points with 21. Her early season performances have landed her two Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
Johnson said though she has been a heavy influence on Humphrey’s early career at OSU, she is still learning a lot from the newcomer.
“I think it’s a similar style,” Johnson said of the player’s abilities on the field. “But I’m trying to learn from her a lot because she’s really strong on the ball. So I’m definitely learning stuff from her getting the shots off, and she has really sick skills.”
OSU field hockey (3-6, 0-2) is set to hit to the road Friday to take on the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins in College Park, Md. The team is embarking on a three-game road trip ahead of its return to Buckeye Varsity Field.
OSU coach Anne Wilkinson said she sees Humphrey and Johnson as a microcosm of the team. She said in an interview Sept. 17 that OSU’s chemistry on and off the field continues to blossom under their leadership.
“They really work well together, they respect each other,” Wilkinson said. “Whatever areas we need to improve on, we kinda do a good job of covering for each other, making each other look good on the field.
“And that’s the sign of a good team. Their first focus is making their teammates look better.”
Humphrey grimaced when asked if she was becoming a leader amongst the younger players on the team.
“I hate this question,” Humphrey said. “I just try to support my teammates as much as possible. That’s how I’m going to lead.”
Johnson, who’s second on the team in points with 17, echoed the sentiment. She said seniority doesn’t matter much for OSU.
“Just trying to step up and trying to make sure everyone’s included,” Johnson said of her leadership style. “(Humphrey’s) stepped up as a leader. Not just for the freshman, but for the team in general.”