The Ohio State field hockey team will be in its 15th season under the direction of head coach Anne Wilkinson, but it will seem like a new era in 2010. The team opens a new facility, Buckeye Varsity Field, and has 10 freshmen on its roster but will have an excellent springboard into the season after making its third NCAA tournament appearance in the last five years.
“We will have a high-tempo offense this season, really pushing the speed of the game.”
- Ohio State returns several key forwards from last season, including 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Berta Queralt. The Barcelona native became the first Buckeye rookie to be an All-America honoree earning a spot on the third team after compiling 46 points on 17 goals, including five gamewinnners, and 12 assists.
- Also having an instant impact in her first season was fellow Spaniard Maria Briones. A junior in 2010, she received Second Team All-West Region and All-Big Ten nods last year and was second on the team in points with 32 (12g, 8a). Briones combined with her countrywoman Queralt to score more than half of Ohio State’s 54 goals.
- The elder statesman in the bunch will be senior Jena Cacciatore, who started 19 of 20 games as a junior and finished third on the Buckeyes with a career-high 25 points (10g, 5a).
- Rounding out the retuning Buckeye forwards are sophomore Danica Deckard, who gained good experience her first year with 14 games played and scored a goal, and Kelly Beam, who redshirted the 2009 season.
- Five freshmen will be among the mix up front, including another Spaniard. Ohio State welcomes Susan Dappen (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Kaitie Kirchner (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Nina Passen (Columbus, Ohio), Paula Pitarque (Barcelona, Spain) and Evelyn Romeo (North Huntingdon, Pa.).
“Good passes through the midfield are important to get the offense going. I want the team to be aggressive with the ball and focus on good distribution.”
- A staple in the Ohio State midfield the last two seasons has been Aisling Coyle. Now a junior and in her second season as a co-captain, the Glasgow, Scotland, native will continue to orchestrate the transition game for the Buckeyes. Last season, Coyle finished second on the team in assists with nine while totaling 21 points and earning First Team All-West Region and All-Big Ten awards.
- A pair of seniors, Bri Doak and Aisling McKeon, also brings plenty of experience in the midfield. Doak, who was named a co-captain for 2010, has started all 59 games in her career. McKeon has contributed 14 points on five goals and four assists in each of the last two seasons and totals 58 games played in her career.
- Morgan Clark picked up 11 starts in 18 games played in 2009 and as a junior should gain even more experience this season. She also tallied her first point as a Buckeye last year with a goal.
- Ohio State had added two freshmen to the midfield: Arielle Cowie (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) and Maria Swartz (Columbus, Ohio).
“Discipline and structure in our backfield was a key part to our success last season and will continue to be this year.”
- Ohio State’s backfield limited opponents to just 1.55 goals and 9.9 shots per game in 2009 and helped the team post a league-high six shutouts.
- The Buckeyes take a hit in the back with the loss of Rachel Hunter and Natalia Ciminello to graduation, but an integral part of Ohio State’s success remains with junior Jenn Sciulli. As the team’s Defensive Player of the Year awardwinner for 2009, the Palmyra, Pa., native has started all 41 games played the last two seasons. She also made a career-high four defensive saves.
- Sophomore Laura Napolitano started the first 10 games of her freshman year and played in a total of 14. The Cincinnati native made two defensive saves.
- Joining the Buckeye backfield will be freshmen Nora Murer (Luzern, Switzerland) and Christina Shea (Chadds Ford, Pa.), and both also can contribute in the midfield.
“Ally gained good experience her freshman season and we need her to build on that.”
- One area somewhat in the air for the Buckeyes in goalkeeping. Ally Tunitis will be a junior, but had limited action in 2009 because of injury and quality play by graduated senior Lindsay Quintiliani. In her freshman year, Tunitis led Ohio State to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament while patrolling the goal for the last seven games of the season. She went 6-1 with three shutouts, a 0.84 goals-against average and .812 save percentage. The Macungie, Pa., product was 1-2 in four appearances last season.
- Freshman Emma Voelker also will be in goal for the Buckeyes. The native of Timonium, Md., was a standout goalkeeper at Maryvale Prep and made 195 saves in 36 games played her last two years of high school.
“Our schedule will be a challenge in and out of conference. Seven of our opponents finished 2009 in the top 20 and four were in the top 10.”
- Ohio State’s schedule in 2010 will be a challenge, but the Buckeyes will be ready. Tough non-conference opponents include 2009 NCAA Tournament participants Syracuse (Sept. 3), semifinalist Virginia (Sept. 11) and Wake Forest (Sept. 19), along with Louisville (Sept. 8), Old Dominion (Sept. 12) and Duke (Sept. 18). Of those games, only the Syracuse matchup is in Columbus.
- The meeting with the Orange Sept. 3 also marks the opening game at Buckeye Varsity Field. Constructed over the 2010 summer, the new home of the Ohio State field hockey team has moved north of its previous site and will be opened with an official ceremony before the game.
- The Buckeyes have taken full advantage of home turf with a record of 53-19 (.736) in Columbus the last nine years, including a 9-1 home record in 2009. Ohio State looks to keep that momentum going in eight home games this season, including Kent State (Sept. 5), Northwestern (Sept. 24), Robert Morris (Sept. 29), Miami University (Oct. 7), Michigan State (Oct. 15), Penn State (Oct. 17) and Ball State (Oct. 27).
- Ohio State will be on the Big Ten Network twice in 2010 – both on the road. The Buckeyes’ game at Indiana (Oct. 2) will be shown the following day on tape-delay at 1 p.m., and their game at Iowa (Oct. 30) will be aired the same day but on tape-delay at 6 p.m.