Devon Kerr’s impact on the Ohio State women’s soccer team will be felt for years to come.
The 2018 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year completed eight shutouts in the regular season a year ago, five of those coming in Big Ten games. She notched 71 total saves on the season, in which she started all 19 matches.
This season, redshirt freshman Jordan Silkowitz and junior Bailey Kolinski are looking to use what they learned from practicing and training with Kerr to replace not only what she provided statistically, but also her leadership and grit.
“She brought a calmness to our backline and to our forwards that Jordan and I are both attempting to replicate,” Kolinski said.
Silkowitz added that Kerr’s tough style of play is something she and Kolinski have been practicing when faced with adversity.
“I think our goalkeeper unit was really solid [last year], and we pushed [Kerr] to get her to be the best she could be, and she challenged us in different ways,” Silkowitz said. “Just how she handled different situations and now seeing this year where things got hard and seeing how we can put that into how we handle them.”
Although Silkowitz did not play in a game for the Buckeyes prior to the 2019 season, her experience and practice time have been invaluable. As a redshirt freshman, she still has time to continue to learn and grow as a goalkeeper.
“She is super dominant in the air, which is one of her greatest qualities,” head coach Lori Walker-Hock said. “Her kicking game is very comfortable. She can use either foot.”
Walker-Hock said Silkowitz is one of the most athletic goalies she’s had in terms of shot-stopping ability, but after starting the first five games in goal, the Buckeyes were 0-4-1 with 10 goals given up by Silkowitz.
Kolinski made her first appearance for the Buckeyes during their 2-3 loss to TCU. Since then, she and Silkowitz have split time in each game, but Kolinski has allowed just one goal and is credited with a 2-0 record, including wins over Miami (Ohio) and Ohio.
Heading into conference play, Silkowitz and Kolinski said they believe they have a clean slate, and the Buckeyes got a win over a 7-1 Michigan State team Thursday.
The win came with Silkowitz and Kolinski each playing a full half and neither allowing a goal.
Replacing a star is hard enough, but the pair of goalkeepers must also contend with competing against each other for playing time. The team appears to be benefitting from the split time, however, as it has gone 3-2 since Kolinski’s integration in the lineup.
It will require the lessons they’ve learned from Kerr in order to continue succeeding in a tough Big Ten conference, but Kolinski said her relationship with Silkowitz will push them to play at optimum capacity.
“We are just going to go out and do our best, really challenge each other and look for the best of each other,” Kolinski said.