Katie Frederick, a senior goaltender for the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team, has been called hard-working, determined and very talented.
Among her other qualities, patience might just be an understatement.
After three seasons in a backup role, at last the net belongs to Frederick, and she has not squandered the opportunity. So far, she has helped guide the Buckeyes to a 9-1 record, currently placing them at No. 15 in the Inside Lacrosse poll.
Frederick’s prolonged wait wasn’t necessarily her fault, though. It was more of a matter of who was ahead of her on the depth chart, which was Tori Descenza, one of the best, if not the best, netminders the program has ever seen.
From 2012-2015, Descenza was nothing short of a brick wall. She holds the program career records for saves (569) and wins (43), while also ranking fourth all-time in goals-against average (9.62).
However, Frederick did not hold any hard feelings toward the woman she eventually succeeded. In fact, the relationship between the two is part of the reason why Frederick has been so successful this season.
“Having her the past three years really helped me along the way; she kind of took me under her wing my freshman year,” Frederick said. “I think being able to compete with her every single day at practice has helped me get to where I am today.”
Descenza wasn’t the only mentor Frederick had soon after arriving in Columbus. OSU’s coach, Alexis Venechanos, wasn’t too shabby between the pipes during her time at Maryland.
The 2003 Terrapin graduate won two national championships, posting a 23-0 record her first year as a starter in 2001, and was the recipient of the Ensign C. Markland Kelly Award, given to the nation’s top goaltender, as a senior.
The coach said she has been nothing but proud of the work ethic Frederick has put forth in both her lone year as a collegiate starter and her time waiting in the wings.
“She is just rising to the occasion,” Venechanos said. “That’s a credit to her mentally, physically and emotionally. You have to come and bring it every day, and I think she did that when she wasn’t playing. Now, it’s that additional excitement.”
Frederick had played in eight games prior to this season, but Venechanos classified the goalie’s excitement about her current role as through the roof.
“She’s been waiting for three years,” Venechanos said. “It’s like a kid in a candy shop.”
Even her teammates knew that this was going to be a special season for the player who wears No. 1.
“This is her time,” said senior midfielder Olivia DiCarlantonio. “Everyone is working for her and she’s our backbone back there. She sees the field. She’s our eyes, she’s our mouth and she’s leading us to victories.”
Frederick and the rest of the Buckeye defense have been doing just that.
After 10 games, the Scarlet and Gray are giving up an average of 8.40 goals per game, while only surrendering 10 goals or more twice.
They have allowed fewer than 10 goals in seven straight games with Frederick in charge on the back end, as she has a 9-1 record with a 7.76 goals against average and a .469 save percentage.
With an arduous schedule ahead, including games against No. 1 Maryland, No. 14 Northwestern, No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 9 Penn State, the Buckeyes can take solace in the fact that they have a strong last line of defense, which, after three seasons, is finally anchored by Frederick.
“I just wanted to make the most of this year as a team and individually,” Frederick said. “I waited three years for this opportunity, so to be able to go out and be successful with my teammates is really special.”
OSU is set to conclude its three-game road trip with a trek up to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. The Buckeyes will be looking to make their winning streak eight games. Faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.