After Thursday evening’s game was postponed because of torrential rain and threats of lightning, the No. 17 Ohio State women’s soccer team returned to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Friday morning for an 11 a.m. meeting with Florida International.
The Buckeyes took control of the makeup game, defeating the Panthers 3-1 to improve to 4-0-1.
Coach Lori Walker was pleased with the players’ improvement in their decision-making skills in the second half of the game.
“We were slow to make decisions in the first half, but we addressed that again at halftime because I think it’s an evolving process for us,” Walker said. “I thought we did a much better job in the second half of having our head on a swivel and finding multiple options, instead of just narrowing down on one.”
The Buckeyes had several chances to score in the first half, eventually finding the back of the net in the 31st minute when junior forward Nichelle Prince scored off of an assist from sophomore midfielder Nikki Walts and junior defender Morgan Wolcott. Walts sent a feed from the corner and Wolcott knocked it from inside six yards to assist Prince’s score.
The score was already Prince’s third goal this season, equaling her total from an injury-shortened 2014 season.
“I think we need to keep getting better every game,” Prince said. “We can’t get complacent. We can’t just think we’ve made it just because we’ve had a few wins.”
Prince said she knows the season has truly just begun.
“We have to keep trying to improve and keep trying to get better, because once we get into Big Ten there are going to be tougher teams that we’re going to play and we have to be ready for that,” Prince said.
Following halftime, FIU senior midfielder Madlen Weinhardt scored just 15 seconds into the opening of the second half.
The Scarlet and Gray then took the lead in the 57th minute on an own goal off a Walts corner kick, making the sophomore responsible for a goal and an assist in the match.
Walts said the team’s undefeated start through five games after a disappointing 6-10-3 season last year is largely due to a change in team culture.
“Training has been amazing. It’s my second year here, and I’ve loved it,” Walts said. “Our coaches have definitely gotten practices together to lead us to where we are now, and it’s awesome.”
Walts was named player of the game by her teammates.
Walker said she was pleased with Walts’ performance this afternoon and thinks more production like that could be in store for the midfielder.
“I think there are so many little things that Nikki does,” she said. “She has a huge engine, she can run all day. But the beauty of what she really brings to our team is just a soccer savvy.”
The Buckeyes continued their hot streak, scoring again in the 66th minute when sophomore forward Sammy Edwards scored from inside the box, with an assist from freshman midfielder Sarah Roberts.
“We have to keep coming out hard in practice, and preparing ourselves, no easy days. We want that championship, so we have to prepare ourselves every day. Nothing is easy for us,” Walts said.
The Buckeyes now stand at 4-0-1 and are 3-0 at home. They are set to host West Virginia on Sept. 11 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.