The Ohio State women’s field hockey team capped off an emotional afternoon with a 6-3 victory against California on Sunday, as the team honored the four seniors playing their final home game at Buckeye Varsity Field.
Forward Peanut Johnson, forward/midfielder Annie VonderBrink, back Emma Royce and redshirt senior goalkeeper Sydney Stype were joined by friends and family for the introductions.
With a sense of energy from the pregame ceremony, OSU began the game strong as the close-knit Buckeyes entered halftime with a 3-0 lead. OSU had not scored three goals in the first half since its season-opener on Aug. 28.
OSU coach Anne Wilkinson credited improved ball movement for the first-half offense.
“We were starting to use each other and make simple passes. We went through a string where we were carrying the ball way too long and trying to beat three players,” Wilkinson said.
Three separate OSU players scored in the first half. Sophomore forward/midfielder Maddy Humphrey scored first and was followed by goals from Johnson and sophomore midfielder Morgan Kile.
Johnson’s reign at Buckeye Varsity Field ended about as well as it possibly could’ve, as she led the Buckeyes with three goals and an assist. Her four points are the most by any Buckeye player this season. However, she preferred to focus on the team rather than her individual accomplishments.
“I think it was more just a team game. It wasn’t a personal ‘I want to score.’ It was just like we want someone to score, we were setting each other up, and I was lucky enough to be set up really well,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s offensive prowess was called on in the second half when California threatened a comeback. Down three with just over six minutes into the second half, the Golden Bears scored twice within one minute. Wilkinson, dismayed, called a timeout.
“She called a timeout just so we could get our minds right. One of the girls on the team, Morgan Kile, was just like ‘they are not coming back in this,’” Johnson said.
Wilkinson said the timeout was to allow her team to take a breath and refocus.
“I basically just told them to just calm down,” Wilkinson said. “Don’t play like you’re losing.”
The team responded quickly. Johnson scored her second goal three minutes after the timeout and followed with a third score six minutes later, giving OSU a 5-2 lead.
OSU’s sixth and final goal came from freshman midfielder/back Courtney Daniels. The score, the first of her collegiate career, gave the Buckeyes a 6-3 lead and put the game out of reach with under two minutes to play.
The Scarlet and Gray’s six goals were the most the team has scored this season.
The lead also allowed Wilkinson the opportunity to sub in Stype at goalie for her first action of the season during her final home game. As the buzzer signaling the end of the game sounded, Stype’s teammates enthusiastically rushed her.
“As excited as she was to get in there, she’s really very deserving. As a fifth-year senior, she’s been through thick and thin and has worked really hard,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson said she was glad to send to send off the four seniors with a big win.
“With all the seniors, what they’ve contributed to this program is fantastic. My captains Emma and Peanut, I can’t say enough about. They’ve been such strong leaders this year and I’m just really proud to have them as a part of our team,” Wilkinson said.
Although OSU finished its home schedule, it still has games on the docket at Kent State on Tuesday before finishing the season at Michigan on Saturday. After that, OSU is set to play in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, which begins Nov. 5.