The Ohio State field hockey team opened the season in dominant fashion on Friday afternoon, shutting out visiting St. Louis 5-0 in front of the home crowd at Buckeye Varsity Field.
The Buckeyes (1-0) jumped to an early lead as junior forward Brooke Hiltz received a pass from sophomore forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey and scored to put the Buckeyes ahead in just the second minute of the game. Humphrey, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer in 2014, scored her own goal just eight minutes later to give OSU a quick two-goal lead.
“It was great for us on our attack because it also set the tone for us to be really hungry to score goals. We had a lot of people up there to get an extra touch on it, so that was a great start for us to get out there and have some confidence,” coach Anne Wilkinson said of the start.
OSU scored two more goals in the first half, giving senior forward/midfielder Annie VonderBrink and junior midfielder Paige Hamilton their first points of the season.
The Billikens offense, which garnered just two shot attempts, both off target, rarely threatened the Buckeyes. OSU was able to keep the game largely on St. Louis’s side of the field.
“It was really important, especially for the younger girls coming up to give them some confidence going in and to take this momentum through Sunday and the rest of the season,” senior forward and co-captain Peanut Johnson said.
Johnson scored the final goal of the game for OSU and the only in the second half.
“We need to continue taking the shots we did because we had a lot of shots on goal and just need to improve on putting them in the cage and finding the backboard,” Humphrey said.
Against St. Louis, the Buckeyes shot 25 times, shooting the ball wide on multiple occasions.
The Buckeyes finished with a disappointing record of 5-12 in 2014. However, they returned eight starters including three players listed by the Big Ten as players to watch in Humphrey, Johnson and senior back Emma Royce.
OSU’s level of competition will rise steeply in its upcoming schedule, and Wilkinson said the team understands the challenges awaiting them.
“Now, for Sunday, we’re going to really need to play at a much faster pace and play on the move. We’re not going to get away with receiving in a stationary place,” Wilkinson said. “You have to be really thinking ahead and thinking of the next pass, playing in the present but being able to move. They’re going to be putting a lot more pressure on us and they’re strong, very, very smart players.”
The Buckeyes are next set to face the No. 7 Albany Great Danes on Sunday at noon at Buckeye Varsity Field.