Aug. 22, 2005
Positive energy, strong basic skills, excellent fitness and a never quit mentality were the qualities Ohio State head coach Anne Wilkinson stressed during the spring. With the departure of four seniors from the 2004 squad, Wilkinson wanted to use the spring to put the young Buckeyes in as many competitive situations as possible as the team prepared for the 2005 fall season. Whether it was in the weight room, on the track, on the playing field or in the classroom, the challenge was for this team to create its own identity and set its own standards.
If the spring was any indication, the Buckeyes are on their way to being a successful team as they came away with their first Mercian Cup Spring League title in April. Featuring top teams from the Midwest region in a round robin format, Ohio State finished with a 3-1-1 record and took the title with a 1-0 win over 2004 Big Ten Champion Michigan.
“One of our primary goals this spring was to allow this team to form their own chemistry,” Wilkinson said. “Hard work and fun are important parts of the equation. We worked hard on and off the field with an emphasis on enjoying each other.”
While the 2005 Buckeyes will be a new team from last season, it won’t be lacking in experience. The squad returns 19 letterwinners and seven starters from last year. Building on balance and diversity, the team has four seniors, 10 juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen from six states and five countries.
In developing the team for the upcoming season, Wilkinson looks for players to step up and take leadership roles on and off the field. “We need to have anchors on every line on the field, from forward to back to goal; players that have the fitness and skills to help the team build play and have the mental and physical strength to ride through a game’s tough moments. Coming away from the spring, we were pleased with the number of anchors that emerged,” Wilkinson said.
Key returning upperclassmen include Lucy Clayton, Leticia Fragapane, Saskia Mueller, Florencia Stier, Lindsay Williams and Curlyne Wynn.
Clayton, who utilizes her competitive spirit and physical attributes to gain advantage inside the circle, returns for her senior campaign and will be looked upon to guide the Buckeye attack. Over the course of her career, Clayton, a two-time All-West Region honoree, has played in 53 games, recording 23 goals and 12 assists.
Fragapane returns for her fourth year with 56 games under her belt. An intense competitor, Fragapane is a skillful and emotional spark plug for the team. While her numbers don’t always reflect her impact on the game, she has shown the ability to make the clutch play time and time again.
Mueller returns for her junior campaign after a sophomore season where she came away with All-America honors. The Zuerich, Switzerland, native started all 20 games for the Buckeyes and led the team with nine assists last season. Mueller has the poise and ability to make the crucial tackle on defense and then launch a counter attack in a single pass.
Stier will be counted on to help anchor the Buckeye defense. A defender with strong tackling, and distribution skills, she will be an important part of Ohio State defense and attack. Stier contributed to the OSU offense, posting 14 points last season, and returns for her junior year in which more scoring opportunities are foreseen.
Williams, the Buckeyes’ starting goalie from Harrisburg, Pa., returns for her senior season following a successful junior year which saw her start all 20 games in net for the Buckeyes, finish first in the Big Ten in saves (146) and saves per game (7.30) and garner Big Ten All-Tournament honors.
An All-West Region and All-Big Ten first team selection, Wynn is noted for her talent of creating scoring opportunities for her teammates. Last season, Wynn led the Buckeyes, along with teammate Lauren Kruse, in points (17) and goals (8), and tallied a team-leading 48 shots. Going into her junior season, Wynn is considered one of the best players in the Big Ten with her stick skills and passing ability.
Junior captains Lauren Kruse and Jessica Gofgosky will provide leadership to the Buckeye squad on and off the field. Kruse has proven to be one of the most versatile players on the field as she led the Buckeyes, along with Wynn, in points and goals last season. Gofgosky is a team player who brings a positive attitude to the team. Also returning to the Buckeye lineup is sophomore Yesenia Luces who made great strides in the spring and is expected to rank at the top of the charts in scoring this season.
Adding depth to the squad in 2005 are senior Katelin Condon and juniors Meghan Brookhart, Stacie Hassman, Tory Krauss and Renee Rossi. With their first year down, the sophomore class of Mara Adelman, Jamie Gofgosky, Dana Greenhut and Kelly Terwilliger look to build on their inaugural season as Buckeyes.
“During the spring we wanted to give every player the experience to show what they could do in game situations,” Wilkinson said. “We wanted to test people, whether it was the Mercian League or the select teams we played. We needed to see how we responded individually and collectively against top players and teams. We were happy to see how we responded as a team.”
Wilkinson is thrilled with the talented student-athletes added to the roster this season and expects each to make immediate contributions to the program.
Linda Haussener, a teammate of current Buckeye Saskia Mueller on the Swiss National Team, brings a wealth of international experience to the squad as she is considered one of the top players in Switzerland.
Ohio natives Emily Mikac, of Upper Arlington, and Laura Trickey, from Toledo, are among the top players in the state and their athleticism will help them contribute to the team’s success in 2005.
“Our goal has always been to build this program with quality people, players who can get the job done on the field and in the classroom,” Wilkinson said. We’re very excited about the potential of this group.”
Strength of Schedule
Ohio State’s 2005 schedule features several top teams in the nation, including six teams which competed in the NCAA championships including semifinalists Maryland and Michigan State and national runner-up Duke. The Buckeyes look to capitalize on their 11 home games and strength of schedule to make their third appearance in the NCAA championship.
OSU opens its season taking on powerhouses Maryland, Richmond and Duke in the first three games of the season. Maryland ventures to Columbus Aug. 19 for a battle at North Turf Field. The Buckeyes travel to Newark, Del., to compete in the Blue Hen Classic where they will face Richmond and Duke Sept. 3-4.
Big Ten action gets underway with a home match-up against 2004 Big Ten Champion Michigan Sept. 23. Ohio State travels to face Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., to close out the regular season Oct. 29, after facing conference foes Iowa (Sept. 25), Northwestern (Oct. 1), Indiana (Oct. 14) and Penn State (Oct. 22).
Iowa will play host to the 2005 Big Ten Tournament Nov. 4-6. Ohio State has its sights set on the NCAA championship which will be held in Louisville, Ky., on the campus of the University of Louisville Nov. 18 and 20.
“In scheduling, we knew there was only one way to find out how good we are and that is to play the best,” Wilkinson said. “We have a tremendous opportunity this fall to test ourselves. Between the Big Ten being one of the best conferences in the country from top to bottom and the quality of our non-conference opponents, we’ll see where we stand. The goal is to be playing into late November.”