July 28, 1999
In the last three seasons, the Ohio State field hockey team has established itself as a consistent winner in the Big Ten Conference. But with expectations constantly rising, the Buckeyes are still looking to win the coveted conference championship. Through speed, strength, skill and experience, the Buckeyes hope that this season will be the one in which they may get over that mythical “hump.”
“This team has developed a continuity and consistency within ourselves,” head coach Anne Wilkinson said. “We have a better understanding of one another. A tremendous amount of trust exists within this particular team. Our commitment to individual development, in the offseason, has helped to ensure growth during actual competition. The level of respect that exists amongst this team has enabled us to be more demanding of one another during practices and competitions. Physically, this is the strongest team I have ever coached. An awareness of our abilities and a willingness to challenge one another, on a daily basis, will ensure our chances of getting to that next level.”
The season will see the Buckeyes play nine games at home in addition to hosting the 1999 Big Ten Tournament. Pre-conference competition will include James Madison, Boston College and Kent. The perennial rivalry within the Big Ten, like always, poses a challenge for the Buckeyes, but Wilkinson is confident with her team’s chances for a successful season.
“This group has made a commitment to each other,” Wilkinson said. “They have proven that they are willing to make the individual sacrifices necessary for the betterment of the team. We know there is always more to learn and we are determined to improve.”
Between the Pipes
The Buckeyes enter this season with a trio of youngsters vying for time in goal, junior Stacey Williams, sophomore Alison Blanton and freshman Gillian Batey.
Williams did not play last season after suffering a season ending knee injury.
“She worked really hard in her rehab and we’re excited to have her back,” Wilkinson said.
Blanton lacks Big Ten game experience, but has acquired a full year of OSU’s team defensive philosophy under her belt.
“Allison is a very quick learner and a good athlete,” Wilkinson said. “Her years of experience will aid in her ability to make decisions in upcoming games.”
Batey is a highly touted freshman from Victoria, British Columbia. She is a member of the Canadian Junior National Team, bringing with her a significant amount of international experience.
“Gillian has already played at a high level of competition both at the indoor and international level,” Wilkinson said. “She may be young in age, but she is very experienced in the game of field hockey.
“I have faith in both of them. The key, however, for these two keepers will be their ability to quickly identify and react to dangerous defensive situations.”
Attack from the Back
The Buckeye defense will feature a group with great depth and experience. Leading the way will be junior co-captain Aubrey Stock.
“Aubrey is a very cerebral and calculating player,” Wilkinson said. “Whatever game plan we come up with, she will execute. Her ability to recognize and adapt to our opponents formation is exceptional.”
Senior Felicia Smith, junior Stacey Rago and sophomores Kimberley Reedy and Carrie Wiles will share time in the backfield. Freshman Jennifer van Kirk will look to contribute as well.
“This group gives us a lot of flexibility,” Wilkinson said. “Kim has a lot of strong basic skills. She will see time in the midfield as well. Felicia and Stacey have a lot of experience and Carrie and Jen bring versatility to the team.”
Ohio State possess a number of players who can fill many different roles on the team.
“We have a lot of people capable of playing various positions,” Wilkinson said. “Our system will see a lot of rotating and adjusting to different personel.”
Senior co-captain Jayne Landis and fellow seniors Camilla Robinson and Deanna Menichini lead the way. Last season, Landis led the team with nine goals and finished second on the squad with 18 points. The hard-hitting Robinson led the Buckeyes with 50 shots on goal. Menichini chipped in with two goals and an assist for five points last year.
“This is the fittest Jayne has been in her career,” Wilkinson said. “She thrives on pressure situations and excels most when the game is on the line.
“Camilla’s dedication to this team is apparent. She came back to Columbus early to train and I think she realizes what her potential is and she wants to make a difference in this program. At her very best, she can dominate a game.
“Deanna has undoubtedly broken through defensively. We expect her to carry it over into this season. She’s able to play both sides of the ball now and has always been very coachable and dependable.”
A duo of juniors, Katie Hobson and Haley Fox, will add to OSU’s offensive arsenal. Hobson returns as the team’s leading scorer from last year with 20 points (7 goals and 6 assists). Fox came on strong at the end of last season and finished the year with two goals and an assist.
“Katie really improved her overall physical fitness,” Wilkinson said. “The increase in her speed will enhance the quality skills she already possesses.
“If Haley can start off where she finished last season, she will be an impact player. She has great awareness on and off the ball and enjoys setting up her teammates for success.”
Anchoring the midfield will be two rising stars in sophomores Diana Kuser and Marije van Nouhuys.
The speedy Kuser finished last season with two goals and two assists.
All-Big Ten selection van Nouhuys will look to build off of an extremely successful freshman season.
“Within the system we play, Diana will have the green light to go,” Wilkinson said. “Her strengths are her abilities to distribute the ball and to make things happen on the field. Diana possesses a great amount of natural ability.
“Marije is, without question, our most skilled athlete. She’s recognizes the importance of taking risks and thrives on the challenges placed before her.”
The freshman class joins a team that lost just one senior from the 1998 season. The core of this talented group consists of Jennifer van Kirk, Michelle Ruebman, McKenzie Hufford, Stacy Todd and Gillian Batey.
Hosting the Big Ten Tournament
On Nov. 5-7, Ohio State will play host to the 1999 Big Ten Tournament at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The Buckeyes have a definite home field advantage, going 21-5 in Wilkinson’s three seasons at the helm.
“It can work both ways,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a lot more pressure when you host. The presence of more family, friends and fans requires that we focus that much more on our game. If we can create the type of atmosphere that we have in the past, we can put ourselves in contention for the title.”